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Children, Babies, Pregnancy and Birth, and the Gut Microbiome

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Pregnancy and Birth

Breastfeeding. Necrotizing Enterocolitis. How Infants Acquire Their Gut Flora.

This is a post from the Gut Critters blog that ended November 18, 2016. Ray Medina gave permission for his material to be copied as long as it was attributed to him and not used for commercial purposes. – kiraonysko

Video: The assembly of an infant gut microbiome framed against healthy human adults. Gut’s Earliest Bacterial Colonizers. Infants start out mostly microbe-free but quickly acquire gut bacteria, which take root in three successive groups.

Gut’s Earliest Bacterial Colonizers

First, Bacilli dominate. Then Gammaproteobacteria surge, followed by Clostridia. But the pace at which these bacterial groups colonize the gastrointestinal tract depends on the time since the babies were conceived, not since when they were born. And time since conception appears to have more of an influence on the infant gut microbiome than other factors, such as exposure to antibiotics, whether babies were born vaginally or by cesarean section, and if they were breastfed. Gut Flora In Infants and Children. Bifidobacteria colonization in newborns. Bifidobacteria is a key marker of a healthy gut flora in infants.

Bifidobacteria colonization in newborns

A Brazilian study of 49 newborns — 24 full-term and 25 pre-term (31.2 weeks) — explored the prevalence and concentration of bifidobacteria in stools of one-month-old newborns using qPCR. Bifidobacterium genus and B. longum species were present in all stool samples at one month of age. Counts were higher in full-term (8.3 log cells/g) than in pre-term (7.1), and prevalence of other species were different.

Counts of B. longum species were also higher after vaginal (8.5) than after caesarean (6.9) delivery in full-term newborns. The authors concluded that gestational age might influence bacterial numbers and species in a broad way, while mode of delivery might impact bifidobacteria specifically. Reference: Quality matters in probiotic products - Gut Microbiota for Health. Bacterial exposures necessary for decreasing risk of allergy. Observational studies in humans have shown that early life exposure to microbes in a variety of situations is associated with a decreased risk of asthma.

Bacterial exposures necessary for decreasing risk of allergy

These include: – Exposure of a pregnant mother to microbes in order to protect her baby – Exposure of children to livestock or dogs – Growing up with numerous siblings Meanwhile, disruption of normal colonization processes (such as antibiotic use and C-section delivery) is associated with an increased risk of allergy. Some gut microbiota changes also track with asthma risk. For example, one study showed a greater risk of developing childhood allergic diseases when infant feces contained higher levels of Escherichia coli or Clostridium difficile. Whereas observational studies don’t tell us about causality, mouse models can be useful first steps for identifying causal links. A recent mouse study delved more deeply into how microbial exposures were associated with allergic immune responses. Newborn Immune Systems Suppressed. WIKIMEDIA, ERNEST FFrom the sterile world of the womb, at birth babies are thrust into an environment full of bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Newborn Immune Systems Suppressed

They are very vulnerable to these infections for their first months of life—a trait that has long been blamed on their immature immune systems. But Shokrollah Elahi from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has shown that, at least in mice, this susceptibility is the work of special cells that actively suppress immune responses in newborns. This raises their risk of diseases, but it also creates a window during which helpful bacteria can colonize their guts. The maturation of the microbiome during the first year of life — The American Microbiome Institute. The team of scientists studied 98 women and their newborn babies.

The maturation of the microbiome during the first year of life — The American Microbiome Institute

They sequenced the mother’s stool, the newborns stool, and again the child’s stool at 4 and 12 months. Throughout the study, because they used a technique called shotgun sequencing, they identified 4,000 new microbial genomes. Early-Life Microbiome. Analyzing the gut microbiomes of children from birth through toddlerhood, researchers tie compositional changes to birth mode, infant diet, and antibiotic therapy.

Early-Life Microbiome

V. ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINEAnalyzing stool samples from 39 children in Finland for the first three years of their lives, a team led by investigators at the Broad Institute monitored the effects of factors including birth mode (vaginal versus Cesarean-section delivery) and the administration of antibiotics. Bacteroides bacteria dominated the gut microbiomes of most children born vaginally, while those born by C-section—and some of the vaginally delivered children—lacked Bacteroides for the first 6 to 18 months of their lives, the researchers reported yesterday (June 15) in Science Translational Medicine. The infant microbiome changes before the onset of type 1 diabetes — The American Microbiome Institute.

The researchers sampled the stools of 33 infants in Finland and Estonia that were genetically at-risk for diabetes.

The infant microbiome changes before the onset of type 1 diabetes — The American Microbiome Institute

Their first major discovery was that even though the bacterial composition of the microbiome grew, changed, and became more diverse with age, the types and number of genetic pathways that were expressed by the microbiome, as well as the metabolites produced by the microbiome remained stable. They also found many similar bacterial species between infants, however these infants usually had different strains of said bacterial species.

In most of these cases, once a particular strain established itself in the gut it remained stable and would not be displaced. The scientists tracked the microbiome changes that occurred with diet as well. During breast feeding Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus predominated, and Lachnospiraceae decreased. New research shows that Bifidobacteria transfer from mother to child — The American Microbiome Institute. Both natural birth (as opposed to birth by C-section) and breastfeeding are topics that stir up a lot of conversation among mothers and the scientific community.

New research shows that Bifidobacteria transfer from mother to child — The American Microbiome Institute

For example, there is the question of whether breastfeeding rather than formula feeding has some specific benefit to an infant’s health. Well, what about the infant’s gut microbial health? A new article published by Applied and Environmental Microbiology takes a look at whether natural birth and breastfeeding coincides with an exchange of bacteria from mother to child. Mother’s Microbes Protect Baby’s Brain. V.

Mother’s Microbes Protect Baby’s Brain

ALTOUNIAN/SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINEThe brain—the most exalted and enigmatic of organs, which is closed off from the rest of the body by a largely impermeable barrier—could not seem more disconnected from the intestine. Yet, according to a paper published today (November 19) in Science Translational Medicine, it’s thanks to the contents of the gut—specifically, the resident bacteria—that the mouse brain’s impermeable barrier develops properly, both before and after birth. Early life stress implications on the gut microbiome — The American Microbiome Institute. A growing body of evidence supports the significance of the gut microbiome with respect to behavioral disorders, as mediated by disruption to the gut-brain axis.

Early life stress implications on the gut microbiome — The American Microbiome Institute

Importantly, there is a lack of understanding regarding associations between gut microbiome dysbiosis and behavioral phenotypic outcome. Traumatic childhood events early-in-life can result in later-in-life behavioral consequences. Maternal separation (MS) is an example of such an event that is represented with a well-established preclinical (i.e., animals) experimental model for early life stress.

In a recent study, researcher’s sought to investigate the precise role of MS in the induction of changes to the gut microbiomes of mice, and the potential behavior phenotypic consequences brought on by these changes. Maternal stress can alter the gut microbiome of progeny, possibly affecting brain development — The American Microbiome Institute. The composition of the vaginal microbiome has been shown to have major health implications for a female’s health as well as the health of a newborn infant.

During birth, microbiota transfer from the mother to the neonate, which eventually go on to colonize the gut of the child. It has already been shown that disruptions to the vaginal microbiome can impact microbiota colonization in the gut of a neonate, but downstream implications of this have not been thoroughly explored. Researcher’s from University of Pennsylvania set out to examine whether maternal stress in mice, and subsequent changes to the vaginal microbiome, could lead to disruptions in the gut microbiome of their progeny.

Expanding upon this, the researchers further investigated whether these disturbances to the gut impaired metabolism. This transfer of microbiota occurs during a critical time in brain development, which requires a lot of energy and therefore effective metabolism to fuel this process. The Maternal Microbiome. WIKIMEDIA, JEAN HOUSENPopular thinking has held that as a baby works his way through a birth canal teeming with microorganisms, his body is colonized with its first commensal bacteria. But a new study shows that a bevy of microbes exist in the womb. The findings, published today (May 21) in Science Translational Medicine, add to a growing body of literature suggesting that tissues once thought to be germ-free are crawling with microbes, and that babies’ introduction to the microbial world comes from multiple maternal sources.

“[It’s an] interesting study that continues to build the snowball that no tissue in the human body is sterile, including reproductive tissues and, for that matter, the unborn child,” Seth Bordenstein, a biologist at Vanderbilt University who was not involved in the work, said in an e-mail to The Scientist. Hints that the uterine environment harbors bacteria began to emerge several years ago. A diversely populated placenta Mother’s microbial milk.

What is a Baby’s Microbiome and Why Should Expectant Mothers Care? Microorganisms in the womb set stage for diseases. Researchers review importance of microorganisms that exist in the gut, suggesting perturbation of the environment during pregnancy, delivery and early infancy could impact the developing baby's early microbiome and set the stage for health problems later in life. The term "microbiome" refers to the trillions of organisms we harbor, on our skin and within our respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. "The Microbiome and Childhood Diseases," a special issue of the Birth Defects Research Part C EmbryoToday scientific journal released today, is a collection of ground breaking microbiota reviews. One particularly noteworthy finding pertains to the womb environment in which the baby develops. The special issue is particularly timely as Birth Defects Prevention Month prepares to kick off in January.

According to Dr. Dr. Randomized clinical trial shows probiotic may not be an effective treatment for colic — The American Microbiome Institute. Many families have experienced colicky infants who have excessive and inconsolable crying. The cause of this behavior is largely unknown, however it is beginning to be linked to a variety of diseases, including allergies and gastrointestinal disorders. Many remedies have been suggested to help assuage these infants, including probiotic therapies, but thus far the evidence of their efficacy is unknown.

Researchers in Finland put one of the probiotic therapies, using Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), to the test and conducted a double blind randomized clinical trial to discover whether it decreased colic. They published their results last week in Nature Pediatric Research. Antibiotics decrease microbiome diversity in premature infants — The American Microbiome Institute. In a study published in August by Nature Pediatric Research, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center investigated the development of preterm infants’ microbiomes after taking antibiotics. Twenty-nine premature infants under antibiotic therapy were observed in the study. Exactly What We Expected: “Bacterial Signature” Found in Colicky Babies. A few days ago, I noted that the association between smoking and baby colic was another piece of evidence pointing to a broader smoking/microbiota link. A couple of commenters, drawing from familial experience, helpfully pointed out that colic isn’t always a result of smoking during pregnancy — it wasn’t the case in their experience.

Gut microbiota and infant vaccine protocol. Why do some children suffer adverse vaccine events while others escape injury? Maternal HIV infection can disrupt the gut microbiota development of infants - Gut Microbiota for Health. Worldwide each year more than a million infants are born to women infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus causing AIDS. Mother-to-child transmission is prevented in most of the cases with maternal antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy, labour, and breastfeeding, and also with a short course of antiretroviral drugs for the baby. Although these infants do not become infected, they are still more vulnerable; for instance, they are at nearly twice the risk of mortality as children born to women without HIV. And until now the reason behind these survival differences was unclear.

A new study, led by researchers at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, points out gut microbiota as an important factor. Microbiome disruptions could explain HIV-exposed babies’ increased risk of morbidity and mortality - Gut Microbiota for Health. It is already known that a reduction in gut microbial richness is the hallmark change of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, but how this dysbiosis is established in the HIV-exposed uninfected infant is poorly understood.

A recent cross-sectional study, led by Dr. A population based study of S. aureus colonization in infants for atopic eczema — The American Microbiome Institute. Atopic eczema (AE) is a skin condition that is often measured by transepidermal water loss (TEWL), a mark of dry skin. Periodontitis and its possible contribution to preterm birth — The American Microbiome Institute. Evidence is accumulating that gum disease can lead to chronic systemic inflammation throughout the entire body. The oral microbiome of children, and its relation to dental caries — The American Microbiome Institute. The microbiome may affect a child’s temperament — The American Microbiome Institute. A new study was recently published that highlights the gut-brain axis once again. The study, out of Ohio State University and published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, compares the microbiomes of toddlers and compares it to their overall behaviors. Gut bacteria may help prevent asthma in children — The American Microbiome Institute.

The nasal microbiome of infants may impact risk of developing asthma — The American Microbiome Institute. Many lower respiratory illnesses have been shown to associate with specific lung, throat and nasal bacteria, but the role of the microbiome is still unclear, and mechanisms for the connection have yet to be proven. Of particular interest is asthma, which affects around 7% of people in the US, and increases a person’s risk for many other conditions.

Four types of gut bacteria to protect you of asthma. Are clues about childhood asthma and heightened immune responses found in a baby’s gut microbiome? - Gut Microbiota for Health. Finding early-life microbiota markers of asthma risk. The microbiome of children with short bowel syndrome — The American Microbiome Institute. The Human Microbiome and Its Potential Importance in Pediatrics.