The bacterial gut microbiome of probiotic-treated very-preterm infants: changes from admission to discharge

Westaway, Jacob A.F., Huerlimann, Roger, Kandasamy, Yoga, Miller, Catherine M., Norton, Robert, Staunton, Kyran M., Watson, David, and Rudd, Donna (2022) The bacterial gut microbiome of probiotic-treated very-preterm infants: changes from admission to discharge. Pediatric Research, 92. pp. 142-150.

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Background: Preterm birth is associated with the development of acute and chronic disease, potentially, through the disruption of normal gut microbiome development. Probiotics may correct for microbial imbalances and mitigate disease risk. Here, we used amplicon sequencing to characterise the gut microbiome of probiotic-treated premature infants. We aimed to identify and understand variation in bacterial gut flora from admission to discharge and in association with clinical variables.

Methods: Infants born <32 weeks gestation and <1500 g, and who received probiotic treatment, were recruited in North Queensland Australia. Meconium and faecal samples were collected at admission and discharge. All samples underwent 16S rRNA short amplicon sequencing, and subsequently, a combination of univariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: 71 admission and 63 discharge samples were collected. Univariate analyses showed significant changes in the gut flora from admission to discharge. Mixed-effects modelling showed significantly lower alpha diversity in infants diagnosed with either sepsis or retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and those fed formula. In addition, chorioamnionitis, preeclampsia, sepsis, necrotising enterocolitis and ROP were also all associated with the differential abundance of several taxa.

Conclusions: The lower microbial diversity seen in infants with diagnosed disorders or formula-fed, as well as differing abundances of several taxa across multiple variables, highlights the role of the microbiome in the development of health and disease. This study supports the need for promoting healthy microbiome development in preterm neonates.

Item ID: 70876
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1530-0447
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2021, corrected publication 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2022 04:15
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3213 Paediatrics > 321303 Neonatology @ 50%
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3207 Medical microbiology > 320701 Medical bacteriology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2001 Clinical health > 200104 Prevention of human diseases and conditions @ 50%
20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200506 Neonatal and child health @ 50%
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