The development of the preterm gut microbiome is important for immediate and longer-term health following birth. We aimed to determine if modifications to the preterm gut on the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) impacted the gut microbiota and metabolome long-term. Stool samples were collected from 29 infants ages 1–3 years post discharge (PD) from a single NICU. Additional NICU samples were included from 14/29 infants. Being diagnosed with disease or receiving increased antibiotics while on the NICU did not significantly impact the microbiome PD. Significant decreases in common NICU organisms including K. oxytoca and E. faecalis and increases in common adult organisms including Akkermansia sp., Blautia sp., and Bacteroides sp. and significantly different Shannon diversity was shown between NICU and PD samples. The metabolome increased in complexity, but while PD samples had unique bacterial profiles we observed comparable metabolomic profiles. The preterm gut microbiome is able to develop complexity comparable to healthy term infants despite limited environmental exposures, high levels of antibiotic administration, and of the presence of serious disease. Further work is needed to establish the direct effect of weaning as a key event in promoting future gut health.
Stewart, C., Skeath, T., Nelson, A., Fernstad, S. J., Marrs, E. C. L. E., Perry, J. D. J., Cummings, S., Berrington, J., & Embleton, N. (2015). Preterm gut microbiota and metabolome following discharge from intensive care. Scientific Reports, -. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep17141