Study of MIcrobiota and Lifestyle in the Early Years

Maternal stress is thought to have ‘programming’ or long-term effects on offspring development. In the SMILEY project we investigate the gut microbiota as one of the underlying mechanisms. The gut bacteria are essential for nutrition, intestinal health and immune function. Remarkably, recent studies show that the gut bacteria also influence brain development and behavior. The colonization of the gut by bacteria takes place early in life and is prone to environmental influences, such as type of delivery, medication use, and type of feeding. In SMILEY, we will investigate whether and how maternal stress influences the offspring’s gut colonization process.

Recruitment started in December 2019 and finished in April 2021, resulting in the enrollment of 165 pregnant women. The mother-infant dyads were followed from eighteen weeks of gestation till twelve weeks postpartum. Currently, our initial wave of data collection is finished, but we are busy with a follow-up measurement round when the babies are eight months of age. Furthermore, in May 2022 we will start a new measurement round when the babies are two years old.

The following people from our lab are working in this study: Hellen Lustermans, Nina Bruinhof, Roseriet Beijers, Carolina de Weerth