Building Healthy Adults

The pediatric immune system has an innate ability to respond and adapt to novel pathogens,1 and this infection/recovery cycle sets the stage for immune resilience later in life. Early intervention leads to better outcomes for both physical and emotional well-being for children and the adults they will become.

Elizabeth Mumper, MD, spoke at IFM’s Annual International Conference (AIC) 2020 about optimizing the pediatric microbiome, “emphasis on the importance of the gut microbiome can lead to recommendations for prolonged breastfeeding, nutrient dense food choices and judicious use of prebiotics and probiotics. The first thousand days of life are of crucial importance for developing oral tolerance and robust beneficial gut flora.”

The health of the gut microbiome may have a direct correlation with disease progression in later adulthood, as suggested by research on the gut microbiota and dysbiosis.2,3 A child’s microbiome is influenced by multiple factors, including alterations in the mother’s own microbiota, microbial exposures in utero and during vaginal delivery, breastfeeding, and physical skin-to-skin contact after birth.4 Thus, a targeted approach to microbiome health for both mother and child may lead to lower disease rates down the line, particularly for metabolic disorders.3

The pediatric track at IFM’s 2020 AIC featured a variety of case-based discussions on Functional Medicine interventions with positive outcomes for younger patients. Topics included optimizing the pediatric microbiome, seeing children with autism spectrum disorder, resiliency in utero and in connection between parent and child, and more. Health affects the whole family, and through these sessions, clinicians will be able to expand their scope of treatment to help build health and longevity throughout the life cycle.


  1. Carsetti R, Quintarelli C, Quinti I, et al. The immune system of children: the key to understanding SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility? Lancet Child Adolesc Health. Published online May 6, 2020. doi:10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30135-8
  2. Ihekweazu FD, Versalovic J. Development of the pediatric gut microbiome: impact on health and disease. Am J Med Sci. 2018;356(5):413?423. doi:10.1016/j.amjms.2018.08.005
  3. Brar PC, Kohn B. Use of the microbiome in the management of children with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2019;31(4):524?530. doi:10.1097/MOP.0000000000000781
  4. Kim H, Sitarik AR, Woodcroft K, Johnson CC, Zoratti E. Birth mode, breastfeeding, pet exposure, and antibiotic use: associations with the gut microbiome and sensitization in children. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2019;19(4):22. doi:10.1007/s11882-019-0851-9