Maggie A. Stanislawski, Dana Dabelea, Brandie D. Wagner, Nina Iszatt, Cecilie Dahl, Marci K. Sontag, Rob Knight, Catherine A. Lozupone, Merete Eggesbø
ABSTRACT Childhood obesity is a growing problem worldwide. Recent research suggests that the gut microbiota may play an important and potentially causal role in the development of obesity and may be one mechanism that explains the trans- generational transmission of obesity risk. Here we examine the early-life gut microbiota at days 4, 10, 30, 120, 365, and 730 and the association with body mass index (BMI) z-scores at age 12 in a Norwegian prospective cohort (n = 165), and evaluate how these BMI-associated taxa relate to maternal overweight/obesity (Ow/Ob) and excessive gestational weight gain (GWG). We performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing on the gut micro- biota samples. Taxonomic phylogeny at days 10 and 730 was significantly associated with childhood BMI, and the gut microbiota taxa at two years of age explained over 50% of the variation in childhood BMI in this cohort. The subset of the early-life taxa within the gut microbiota that best predicted later childhood BMI showed substantial overlap with the maternal taxa most strongly associated with maternal Ow/Ob and excessive GWG. Our results show an association between the infant gut microbiota and later BMI, and they offer preliminary evidence that the infant gut microbiota, particularly at 2 years of age, may have potential to help identify children at risk for obesity.