On the way home from work, NPR highlighted a study that suggests that altered microbiome may increase the risk of Kwashiokor (Gut Microbes May Play Deadly Role In Malnutrition : Shots … – NPR).
Interestingly, a separate article indicates that antibiotics lowers the mortality in severe acute malnutrition (NEJM 2013; 368: 425-35). In this study, 2767 children from 18 feeding clinics in Malawi (2009-2011) were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Children were 6 to 59 months of age with severe acute malnutrition. Those who received amoxicillin, cefdinir, and placebo recovered in 88.7%, 90.9%, and 85.1% respectively. The relative risk of death in the placebo group was 1.55 compared to amoxicillin and 1.80 compared to cefdinir. The children in the antibiotic group also had improved growth.
The authors suggest that the reason for improvement is likely to be due to fewer invasive bacterial infections. These infections are frequent and thought to be related to translocation across compromised mucosal surfaces. However, perhaps the antibiotics act by producing a more favorable microbiome which in turn promotes improvement. As such, microbes have a role in contributing to obesity (Microbial transfer for metabolic syndrome? | gutsandgrowth) and to starvation.
- Gut Microbiomes of Malawian Twin Pairs Discordant for Kwashiorkor abstract in Science