Human gut microbiome changes during a 10 week randomised control trial for micronutrient supplementation in children with attention- deficit/ hyperactivity disorder

Type of content
Journal Article
Thesis discipline
Degree name
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Stevens A
Purcell R
Eggleston M
Darling K
Kennedy M
Rucklidge J

It has been widely hypothesized that both diet and the microbiome play a role in the regulation of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) behaviour. However, there has been very limited scientific investigation into the potential biological connection. We performed a 10-week pilot study investigating the effects of a broad spectrum micronutrient administration on faecal microbiome content, using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The study consisted of 17 children (seven in the placebo and ten in the treatment group) between the ages of seven and 12 years, who were diagnosed with ADHD. We found that micronutrient treatment did not drive large-scale changes in composition or structure of the microbiome. However, observed OTUs significantly increased in the treatment group, and showed no mean change in the placebo group. The differential abundance and relative frequency of Actinobacteria significantly decreased post- micronutrient treatment, and this was largely attributed to species from the genus Bifidobacterium. This was compensated by an increase in the relative frequency of species from the genus Collinsella. Further research is required to establish the role that Bifidobacterium contribute towards neuropsychiatric disorders; however, these findings suggest that micronutrient administration could be used as a safe, therapeutic method to modulate Bifidobacterium abundance, which could have potential implications for modulating and regulating ADHD behaviour. Our pilot study provides an initial observation into this area of research, and highlights an interesting avenue for further investigation in a larger cohort. Furthermore, these novel results provide a basis for future research on the biological connection between ADHD, diet and the microbiome.

Stevens A, Purcell R, Eggleston M, Darling K, Kennedy M, Rucklidge J (2019). Human gut microbiome changes during a 10 week randomised control trial for micronutrient supplementation in children with attention- deficit/ hyperactivity disorder. Scientific Reports. in press.
Ngā upoko tukutuku/Māori subject headings
ANZSRC fields of research
Field of Research::17 - Psychology and Cognitive Sciences::1701 - Psychology::170109 - Personality, Abilities and Assessment
Fields of Research::31 - Biological sciences::3107 - Microbiology::310701 - Bacteriology
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit