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The gut microbiomes of young children appear to fail to fully recover from the trauma of early-life malnourishment, even after they are treated with more-complete diets, according to a 2014 study published in Nature.[1]

In this paper the research team led by Jeffrey Gordon of the Washington University in St. Louis sampled the gut microbiomes of healthy and malnourished children in Bangladesh and discovered that the microbiomes of children who were underfed and whose diets lacked essential nutrients looked less like those of adults and more like those of younger, healthy children.

The findings present a possible explanation for the commonly observed complications that malnourished children suffer even after they are treated with a standardised food regimen, including stunted growth, cognitive delays, and immune system problems. The researchers have suggested that the immature gut microbiomes of malnourished children may be partially responsible for some of these long-term impairments.

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