Determinants and Duration of Impact of Early Gut Bacterial Colonization

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Background: An increasing number of studies show low diversity of the gut microbiome in those with chronic diseases such as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and allergy. Manipulation of the microbiota may promote health. However, the adult microbiota is stable and may be difficult to change. Understanding the fixed and modifiable factors, which determine colonization in early life, may provide strategies for acquisition of a health-promoting microbiome. Summary: Not enough is known about the long-term effects of established determinants of gut colonization, including delivery mode, perinatal antibiotics, and infant diet. It has been suggested that weaning onto solid diet containing non-digestible carbohydrates and cessation of breastfeeding are key stages in the colonization process. In addition, the microbiome of the placenta, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, alongside vaginal and fecal bacteria, may aid the transfer of maternal bacteria to the infant. However, methodological issues such as contamination during collection and/or analysis should be considered. Key Messages: The factors determining early colonization are becoming more evident. However, longitudinal studies of microbiome maturation into late childhood and adulthood are required. The nutrition and health status of the mother before, during, and after birth may be major factors in the early colonization of the infant.

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