Volume 103, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



There is a lack of empirical, prospective human data on the gut microbiome and its relationship with growth, especially in low- and middle-income countries. We prospectively assessed the association between gut microbial diversity and short-term growth in a cohort of preschool children in Burkina Faso to better characterize whether there is any evidence that changes in gut microbial diversity may affect growth. Data were obtained from a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effect of antibiotic administration on gut microbial diversity in preschool children. We followed up the enrolled children for 35 days, with anthropometric measurements at baseline and day 35 and microbial diversity measured at baseline and day 9 (analytic sample, = 155). We estimated linear mixed-effects regression models with household random intercepts to assess the association of Simpson’s and Shannon’s alpha diversity with measures of change in anthropometry (e.g., ponderal growth since baseline) and absolute anthropometric measurements (e.g., day 35 weight). We did not find evidence that alpha gut microbial diversity was associated with growth or absolute anthropometric measurements after adjusting for confounding variables. Effect estimates were close to the null ( ≥ 0.15 for all fully adjusted comparisons), with the association between Simpson’s alpha diversity and day 35 height (cm) farthest from the null (coefficient = −0.03, 95% CI: −0.07, 0.01). The change in gut microbial diversity also was not associated with the change in anthropometry in crude or adjusted models. Future research is needed to explore whether gut diversity has an impact on growth over a longer time period, in both healthy and malnourished children.


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  • Received : 22 Jan 2020
  • Accepted : 18 Aug 2020
  • Published online : 28 Sep 2020
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