Establishment and development of infant gut microbiota

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Hill, Cian J.
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University College Cork
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The nascent gut microbiota at birth is established in concert with numerous developmental parameters. Here, in the INFAMTET study, we chronicled the impact of some factors which are key determinants of the infant gut microbiota, namely; mode of birth, gestational age, and type of feeding. We determined that the aggregated microbiota profile of naturally delivered, initially breastfed infants are relatively stable from one week to six months of age and are not significantly altered by increased duration of breastfeeding. Contrastingly, there is significant development of the microbiota profile of C-section delivered infants, and this development is significantly influenced by breastfeeding duration. Preterm infants, born by either mode of birth, initially have a high proportion of Proteobacteria, and demonstrate significant development of the gut microbiota from week 1 to later time-points. The microbiota is still slightly, but significantly, affected by birth mode at one year of age although no specific genera were found to be significantly altered in relative abundance. By two years of age, there is no effect of either birth mode or gestational age. However this does not preclude the possibility that symptoms developed later in life, which are associated with preterm or C-section birth, are as a result of the early perturbation of the neonatal gut microbiota. It is likely that the combination of relatively low exposure (breast fed), high exposure (formula fed) or delayed exposure (C-section and preterm) to specific antigens and the resulting inflammatory responses, in this crucial window of host-microbiota interaction, influence systemic health of the individual throughout life.
Intestinal microbiota
Hill, C. 2015. Establishment and development of infant gut microbiota. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.