Infant microbes and metabolites point to childhood neurodevelopmental disorders

Cell. 2024 Apr 11;187(8):1853-1873.e15. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2024.02.035. Epub 2024 Apr 3.


This study has followed a birth cohort for over 20 years to find factors associated with neurodevelopmental disorder (ND) diagnosis. Detailed, early-life longitudinal questionnaires captured infection and antibiotic events, stress, prenatal factors, family history, and more. Biomarkers including cord serum metabolome and lipidome, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotype, infant microbiota, and stool metabolome were assessed. Among the 16,440 Swedish children followed across time, 1,197 developed an ND. Significant associations emerged for future ND diagnosis in general and for specific ND subtypes, spanning intellectual disability, speech disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism. This investigation revealed microbiome connections to future diagnosis as well as early emerging mood and gastrointestinal problems. The findings suggest links to immunodysregulation and metabolism, compounded by stress, early-life infection, and antibiotics. The convergence of infant biomarkers and risk factors in this prospective, longitudinal study on a large-scale population establishes a foundation for early-life prediction and intervention in neurodevelopment.

Keywords: ASD; Akkermansia; Coprococcus; PFOA; antibiotics; equol; inflammation; otitis; pediatrics; tryptophan.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / microbiology
  • Biomarkers*
  • Child
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mood Disorders / microbiology
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies


  • Biomarkers