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Updated: May 23

A study published in Biomolecules has revealed that use of vitamin D supplements in infancy may differentially and independently influence infant gut microbiota metabolites. Using data on 575 infants from the CHILD Study, the study looked at whether use of infant vitamin D drops changes concentrations of certain metabolites, specifically glycerol and 1,2 propanediol (1,2-PD) concentrations, in the stools of infants at 3 months of age and characterized associations between these two molecules, and gut microbiota and their metabolites.

The study revealed that infants given vitamin D supplements were more likely to have high 1,2-PD and less likely to have high fecal glycerol compared to those not given vitamin D. Fecal 1,2-PD and glycerol concentrations were found to be negatively correlated with each other. Positive correlations between fecal 1,2-PD, Bifidobacteriaceae, Lactobacillaceae, Enterobacteriaceae and acetate levels were also observed.

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A study published in Metabolites is the first to characterize gut microbe-metabolite mediated pathways for early-life SIgA maturation. The study involving 1017 CHILD Study infants sought to determined the impact of birth mode and breastfeeding status on fecal SIgA levels of infants at 3 and 12 months and identify potential mediating pathways involving infant gut microbiota and metabolites.

Using statistical mediation methods the study identified candidate metabolic pathways involving galactose, fucose, GABA, choline, lactate, pyruvate and 1,2-propanediol to altered gut immunity in young infants following cesarean section delivery. When breastfeeding is lower following cesarean, the reduced availability of these milk and microbiota metabolites leads to lowered SIgA levels in the infant gut. Hence, the benefit of breastfeeding on gut immunity following cesarean delivery is not only direct provision of SIgA to the nursing infant but also promotion of an infant’s own gut SIgA production through milk-related metabolites.

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Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Research published in Antibiotics, investigated the effect of early-life exposure to antibiotics and household cleaning

products on C. difficile colonization in infants. Infants colonized by C. difficile usually show no symptoms but C. difficile is a major pathogen that is responsible for diarrhea in adults and older children. Colonization in infancy may serve as a reservoir for adult C. difficile infections, or it may indicate that the infant has lower resistance to colonization and that the maturation of its gut microbiota may be delayed. This, in turn, may make the child more vulnerable to allergies and asthma, which we already know are associated with early-life antimicrobial exposure.

Our team analyzed the stool of 1,429 infants in CHILD at 3–4 months of age and 1,728 infants in CHILD at 12 months of age, and studied associations with antimicrobial exposures collected from hospital birth charts and standardized questionnaires. They found that C. difficile colonization was significantly higher in infants at 3-4 months exposed to both antibiotics and a higher usage of household cleaning products. This higher colonization persisted up to 12 months of age. Our study suggests that cumulative exposure to systemic antibiotics and higher usage of household cleaning products facilitates C. difficile colonization in infants. Further research is needed to understand the future health impacts.

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