Excerpt from Daily Mail

Got a toddler who’s acting up? Blame the bacteria in their gut.

The abundance and diversity of certain bacterial species can impact a child’s behaviour, particularly that of boys, according to a study.

Researchers from Ohio State University studied the gut microbes of children between the ages of 18 and 27 months.

They found that those with the most genetically diverse types of bacteria more frequently exhibited behaviours related to positive mood, curiosity, sociability and impulsivity.

The researchers said the findings provide clues about how – and where – chronic illnesses like obesity, asthma, allergies and bowel disease start.

‘There is substantial evidence that intestinal bacteria interact with stress hormones.

'These are the same hormones that have been implicated in chronic illnesses like obesity and asthma,’ said researcher, Dr Lisa Christian.

She added: ‘A toddler’s temperament gives us a good idea of how they react to stress.

‘This information combined with an analysis of their gut microbiome could ultimately help us identify opportunities to prevent chronic health issues earlier.’

Study co-author Dr Michael Bailey added: ‘There is definitely communication between bacteria in the gut and the brain, but we don’t know which one starts the conversation.

‘Maybe kids who are more outgoing have fewer stress hormones impacting their gut than shy kids.

‘Or maybe the bacteria in their gut are helping mitigate the production of stress hormones when the child encounters something new.