Development of the Pediatric Gut Microbiome: Impact on Health and Disease

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The intestinal microbiota are important in human growth and development. Microbial composition may yield insights into the temporal development of microbial communities and vulnerabilities to disorders of microbial ecology such as recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. Discoveries of key microbiome features of carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism are lending new insights into possible therapies or preventative strategies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In this review, we summarize the current understanding of the development of the pediatric gastrointestinal microbiome, the influence of the microbiome on the developing brain through the gut-brain axis, and the impact of dysbiosis on disease development. Dysbiosis is explored in the context of pediatric allergy and asthma, recurrent C. difficile infection, IBD, IBS, and metabolic disorders. The central premise is that the human intestinal microbiome plays a vital role in health and disease, beginning in the prenatal period and extending throughout childhood.

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