Microbial memory in the gut
© IEPRO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty
Early life events can have a lasting impact on the gut microbiome.
Researchers from University College Cork and elsewhere in Ireland sequenced the DNA of stool samples collected from infants over their first four years of life.
They found that gestational age at birth (full term or preterm) and delivery mode (Caesarean or vaginal birth) continued to impact the composition and diversity of bacteria living in the intestinal tract up to four years later. In contrast, breastfeeding and early exposure to antibiotics had little lasting effects on microbial profiles.
With so many babies today born prematurely, by Caesarean section or both, the results highlight the need to consider biotherapeutic interventions to overcome the enduring health impacts of altered gut microbiomes in young children.
- Nature Communications 10, 1517 (2019). doi: