Effects of environmental biodiversity on health and microbiome development in early childhood
Children often grow up in urban environments where biodiversity and access to nature are decreasing. At the same time, non-infectious diseases such as allergies, diabetes, obesity, and attention deficit disorders are already on the rise in childhood. The connections between biodiversity, children’s everyday environments and the development of children’s health are being investigated in project ENDEMIC. To this end, the composition of the microorganisms associated with the human body (microbiome) is being examined. The microbiome of families and their children is analyzed with regard to
(1) the development of the child’s microbiome,
(2) the resilience of the microbiome and
(3) the correlation between altered microbiome composition (dysbiosis) and chronic diseases.
The ENDEMIC project specifically investigates the effects of biodiversity on the development of physical and mental health and the microbiome in the first three years of life. The project will first develop a concept for recording biodiversity in order to determine the diversity of species in the living environment. In a second step, the microbiome of soil samples in these habitats will be analyzed in order to investigate the influence of biodiversity on the microbiome. Finally, around 30 children (1-3 years old) and their families will be invited to a forest playgroup to encourage the children’s engagement with nature and to analyze the effects on the child’s microbiome and immune system. The results will be used to develop new strategies for the prevention and treatment of the above-mentioned widespread diseases.