Preterm Neonatal Microbiota and Effect of Perinatal Antibiotics

A recent study (Arboleya, S et al. J Pediatr 2015; 166: 538-44) provide sequential data regarding the intestinal microbiome in preterm infants in comparison to full-term infants; in addition, this study offers some insight into the changes that occur with perinatal antibiotics.

The researchers examined fecal samples at approximately 2 days of life, and then days 10, 30, and 90 in 27 preterm infants and 13 full-term babies. The study figures show the progression and changes of the microbiota over the first 90 days. In Figures 1, the profiles are the most similar between the full-term and preterm infants but there remains significant differences.

Key findings:

  • Preterm infants had higher initial percentage of Lactobacillaceae and reduced Bacteroidacease.
  • Perinatal antibiotics (including intrapartum antimicrobial prophylaxis) were noted to affect gut microbiota with increased Enterobacteriaceae organisms in these infants.

There were many confounding variables noted, including different diets, which make interpretation of the data difficult.  The full-term infants received exclusive breast milk whereas the preterm infants received mixed feedings.

A recent review (Houghteling, PD, Walker, WA.”Why Is Initial Bacterial Colonization of the Intestine Important to Infants’ and Children’s Health?” JPGN 2015; 60: 294-307) had a relevant figure:

From NASPGHAN Twitter Feed

From NASPGHAN Twitter Feed

Bottomline: Overall, Arboleya et al provide some additional baseline data but much more is needed to ascertain what factors will make children healthier –starting from before birth. The understanding of the microbiome is truly in its infancy.

Related blog posts:


5 thoughts on “Preterm Neonatal Microbiota and Effect of Perinatal Antibiotics

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