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Longevity Briefs: 90% infants in US lack vital microbiome gut bacteria for the development of the immune system

Posted on 3 February 2021

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Longevity briefs provides a short summary of novel research in biology, medicine, or biotechnology that caught the attention of our researchers in Oxford, due to its potential to improve our health, wellbeing, and longevity.

Why is this research important: The microbiome consists of the populations of micro-organisms that live on our bodies surfaces, whether that be the skin, the gut or other mucosal surfaces.

These populations are so vast that for every one human cell in our body there are ten microorganisms living as a part of our microbiome.

The gut microbiome plays an important role in early life, protecting newborns from enteric pathogens, promoting immune system development and providing key functions to the infant host.

The influencing external factors on infant gut microbiome development. Source:

What did the researchers do: The results of a study published in Scientific Reports suggest that the approximately 90% of infants in the United States may exhibit a substantial deficiency in the important gut bacterium, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis).

B. infantis is key to breast milk utilisation and immune system development, as well as protection against gut pathogens linked to common newborn conditions such as colic and diaper rash.

Key takeaway(s) from this research: The researchers concluded:

This survey offers a new perspective when considering infants in the context of a healthy microbiome and the acute and long-term consequences it implies. Given recent findings linking the microbiome in early life to key elements of infant health and the understanding of this community has improved, our findings reveal that infants in the United States have microbiomes that may fail to provide functions necessary in early life including shaping the immune system, protecting against pathogen colonization, and maximizing nutrition from breast milk (e.g., HMOs).

Source: Metagenomic insights of the infant microbiome community structure and function across multiple sites in the United States

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