Acquisition and Development of the Extremely Preterm Infant Microbiota Across Multiple Anatomical Sites

Gregory R Young*, Christopher J van der Gast, Darren L Smith, Janet E Berrington, Nicholas D Embleton, Clare Lanyon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives:Microbial communities influencing health and disease are being increasingly studied in preterm neonates. There exists little data, however, detailing longitudinal microbial acquisition, especially in the most extremely preterm (<26 weeks' gestation). This study aims to characterize the development of the microbiota in this previously under-represented cohort.Methods:Seven extremely preterm infant-mother dyads (mean gestation 23.6 weeks) were recruited from a single neonatal intensive care unit. Oral and endotracheal secretions, stool, and breast milk (n = 157 total), were collected over the first 60 days of life. Targeted 16S rRNA gene sequencing identified bacterial communities present.Results:Microbiota of all body sites were most similar immediately following birth and diverged longitudinally. Throughout the sampling period Escherichia, Enterococcus, Staphylococcus, and an Enterobacteriaceae were dominant and well dispersed across all sites. Temporal divergence of the stool from other microbiota was driven by decreasing diversity and significantly greater proportional abundance of Bifidobacteriaceae compared to other sites.Conclusions:Four taxa dominated all anatomical sampling sites. Rare taxa promoted dissimilarity. Cross-seeding between upstream communities and the stool was demonstrated, possibly relating to buccal colostrum/breast milk exposure and indwelling tubes. Given the importance of dysbiosis in health and disease of extremely preterm infants, better understanding of microbial acquisition within this context may be of clinical benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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