Economic resources such as education, income and occupation, and are reflected in living conditions, nutrition and psychosocial stress.

Therefore, the socioeconomic status of a family (SES) may influence the makeup of children’s gut microbiome – the unique mix of microscopic organisms within the digestive system – according to a new study led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

One of the first studies of its kind in babies

The gut microbiota plays an important role in a wide range of bodily functions, including the immune system, metabolic and inflammatory processes, and the central nervous system.

DNA and nucleic acid samples from a racially diverse group of 588 children, 1 month to 15 years old, found that environmental factors such as SES could influence people’s health throughout their lives, which could influence measures such as blood pressure, height, weight, diabetes, obesity and even attention deficit disorder / hyperactivity (ADHD).

Human DNA samples were collected from saliva and microbial nucleic acid samples were extracted from the feces. The researchers tested and classified a large number of gut microbes, including: Anaerostipes, Bacteroides, Eubacterium, Faecalibacterium, and Lachnospiraceae. Parents with more years of education had children who scored higher on a “latent microbiome factor,” defined as higher abundance of Anaerostipes, Eubacterium, Faecalibacterium, and Lachnospiraceae, and lower abundance of Bacteroides.

Brain aging could be reversed thanks to the potential of microbes

While previous studies have examined how SES can affect the gut microbiome of adults, this is one of the first tests of its kind in young children. Thus, it constitutes a new step towards understanding all the dimensions that poverty and socioeconomic status affect, increasingly articulating that poverty can be classified, for practical purposes, as a virus: