Childhood Trauma Could Seriously Damage the Gut Microbiome and Cause IBS

Gut Brain Axis

The link between anxiety, depression and digestive issues has been firmly established and linked to the gut microbiome.


A new study now suggests that childhood experiences may permanently alter the gut microbiome and cause serious digestive issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 


The study published in the journal Microbiome, found that people with IBS that had a history of childhood trauma had very different microbiomes than people that IBS but no childhood trauma.


The researchers collected behavioral and clinical measures, stool samples and structural brain images from 29 adults with IBS and 23 healthy control participants.


They found differences between the gut microbiomes of those with and without IBS. Individuals with IBS were also more likely to have depression and anxiety. The biggest surprise to the team was the differences in the microbiomes between IBS sufferers with and without childhood trauma.


This finding suggests that trauma affects the gut microbiome, altering its sensitivity.


Furthermore, the researchers found patients with altered microbiomes had differently shaped brains.


Research has shown that early life trauma can cause changes in brain shape and function. These changes may go on to alter the gut microbiome.


The research team believes that identifying such differences in the microbiomes of IBS patients could be helpful in explaining the lack of response to treatment by some patients and also the worsening of IBS symptoms in some patients based on certain foods, fiber supplements and probiotics.


Source: Labus JS, Hollister EB, Jacobs J, Kirback K, et al. Differences in gut microbial composition correlate with regional brain volumes in irritable bowel syndrome. Microbiome. 2017