Early Life Events, Including Mode of Delivery and Type of Feeding, Siblings and Gender, Shape the Developing Gut Microbiota

Infant gut microbiota is important for a healthy growth as it influences gut maturation, immune, metabolic and brain development. Undesirable gut microbiota composition in early life is associated with disease risk later in life. Early-life events, such as mode of delivery (vaginal birth vs C-section), type of feeding, antibiotic use, presence of siblings or pets, and even gender, have a say in shaping the infant gut microbiota, our study suggested.

In collaboration with Yakult, our scientists characterised the composition and functionality of gut microbiota in 108 healthy new born babies in the first six months of life, aiming to understand the factors that influence the colonisation and development of gut microbiota in early life.

The findings, published in the latest edition of Public Library of Science (PLOS) One, contributes to our understanding of the composition of the microbiota in early life and the evolution of the microbial community as a function of time and events occurring during the first 6 months of life. “According to our results, nutritional supplementation strategies for infants may need to be adapted depending on the timing of supplementation, the environment of the infant and maybe even depending on whether it is a boy or a girl. All seem to point out for a future need to develop more personalized infant nutrition”, said professor Jan Knol, director gut biology and microbiology platform at Danone Nutricia Research and lead author of the study.

Interestingly, the study also sheds insight into the infant-type bifidobacterial species, and confirms that B. breve or B. longum subsp infantis are common inhabitants of the gut of breast-fed infants.


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