Microbiome and malnutrition

Here’s some more fascinating micriobiome news I just could not resist sharing.  It seems that a key feature in malnutrition is a deficient micriobiome.  Basically, if you are malnourished and have a deficient microbiome, even once you have proper nutrition your healthy bacteria don’t really catch up and these kids stay permanently behind in a number of key developmental metrics.  The potential solution– address not just the nutrition intake, but the microbiome as well.

From National Geographic:

The current treatment for malnourishment doesn’t help the child’s system catch up to normal maturity, which may explain why formerly malnourished children still suffer from short height, immune problems, and intellectual delays, said Jeffrey I. Gordon, who studies the gut microbiome at Washington University in St. Louis and who led the research.

“There’s something lacking in our current approach to treatment,” said Gordon, who suspects the children may need to eat therapeutic foods for longer and/or get supplements of probiotics, or beneficial microorganisms, to catch up. “We need to think of food as interacting with this microbial organ.” (See our Future of Food series.)…

To conduct the new study, Gordon and his team collected monthly fecal samples from 50 healthy Bangladeshi children for the first two years of their lives. From those children, they found that a combination of 24 species could be used to predict the maturity of a child’s microbial ecosystem.

When these healthy children had diarrhea, their microbial systems regressed but quickly bounced back, the research showed.

The researchers then examined fecal samples from 64 infants and toddlers hospitalized for malnutrition and diarrhea. The children received antibiotics and therapeutic foods for a week or two and then their families were taught how to better support their nutrition.

But these children, who had an immature balance of microbes to begin with, only got a little maturity bounce at the beginning, then remained far behind their peers, Gordon said.

“Food alone wasn’t able to repair the maturity,” he said.

As for me, I’m still anxiously awaiting results on the health of my microbiome (though I feel pretty damn confident about it)

Judicial elections make judges politicians

And that’s just not a good thing.  Excellent column from Dahlia Lithwick from the campaign in Tennessee to vote against retention for three Democratic judges because they might, in the future (no actual cases were at issue), make decisions Republicans don’t like.  Here’s the rub:

And that’s the real problem. When judicial races turn into spending races, what suffers most is not Democrats or Republicans, but judicial independence and integrity. As has been exhaustively chronicled by one nonpartisan study after another, judges don’t want to be dialing for dollars from the attorneys who litigate before them, and litigants don’t want to appear before judges who dial for dollars. All of the data shows that the effect is a decline in confidence in the independence of the judiciary and a spending arms race that spirals ever more out of control. That’s the paradox of course: Cynically preying on an unspecified public fear of out-of control judges will ultimate result in actual jurists who are actually compromised, either by taking money they shouldn’t be taking, or making promises and pledges they are in no position to make. In either case, imaginary judicial shadiness  becomes a lot more real.

Yeah, that.  Need I add that these hyper-politicization of judicial races which fundamentally undermines this branch of government is coming predominantly from the Republican party.

Photo of the day

From a Telegraph photos of the week gallery:

After a hot day, a thunderstorm gathers over Glaernisch mountain near Schwanden, eastern Switzerland

After a hot day, a thunderstorm gathers over Glaernisch mountain near Schwanden, eastern SwitzerlandPicture: ARNO BALZARINI/EPA

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