Research ArticleMicrobiome

Antibiotics, birth mode, and diet shape microbiome maturation during early life

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Science Translational Medicine  15 Jun 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 343, pp. 343ra82
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad7121

Snapshots of the developing infant gut microbiota

The intestinal “microbiota,” that is, the community of microbes inhabiting the human intestinal tract, undergoes many changes during the first 2 years of life. Bokulich et al. now show that this pattern of development is altered in children who are delivered by cesarean section, fed formula, or treated with antibiotics, compared to those babies who were born vaginally, breast-fed, or unexposed to antibiotics. Future studies will determine whether these disturbances influence the health of these babies.


Early childhood is a critical stage for the foundation and development of both the microbiome and host. Early-life antibiotic exposures, cesarean section, and formula feeding could disrupt microbiome establishment and adversely affect health later in life. We profiled microbial development during the first 2 years of life in a cohort of 43 U.S. infants and identified multiple disturbances associated with antibiotic exposures, cesarean section, and formula feeding. These exposures contributed to altered establishment of maternal bacteria, delayed microbiome development, and altered α-diversity. These findings illustrate the complexity of early-life microbiome development and its sensitivity to perturbation.

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