Pre-pregnancy maternal weight, mode of delivery, exposure to antibiotics, and infant feeding practices are early risk factors associated with childhood obesity, but mechanisms remain unclear. The human gut microbiome, a complex collection of trillions of bacteria in the body involved in harnessing energy from food, is associated with obesity in adults and in animal models. It may provide a causal link between these early risk factors and excess infant weight gain.
This prospective observational cohort study will test associations between gut microbiota, and early weight gain in the first year of life among infants born to normal-weight vs. obese African American mainly low-income mothers, where obesity risk is amongst the highest. Few mechanistic studies of the development of obesity early in life have targeted this high-risk group.