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Gut Microbiome Differences by Race, Ethnicity Appear at Three Months Old

Variations in the human gut microbiome associated with race and ethnicity begin to appear just after three months of age, a new study has found. Researchers from the US examined 2,756 gut microbiome samples from 729 children between birth and 12 years of age from eight cohorts. About 17 percent of the samples were from non-white children and 14.3 were from Hispanic children. As they report in PLOS Biology, the researchers found that machine learning modeling could distinguish the samples by racial and ethnic categories with 87 percent accuracy. None of the 57 bacterial taxa that differ between the groups are vaginally acquired and only two are vertically transmitted, suggesting to the researchers that external factors are leading to the microbiome differences seen. "The analysis presented in this paper highlights that human microbiome studies have an urgent imperative to prioritize diversity and the social sciences in research from early life onward," senior author Seth Bordenstein from Pennsylvania State University says in a statement. "We want to eventually translate diverse microbiome discoveries into shaping the future of health precision, policy and equity across the diversity of all of us."