Is meconium from healthy newborns actually sterile?

Res Microbiol. 2008 Apr;159(3):187-93. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2007.12.007. Epub 2008 Jan 11.


In a previous study, bacteria were able to be isolated from umbilical cord blood of healthy neonates and from murine amniotic fluid obtained by caesarean section. This suggested that term fetuses are not completely sterile and that a prenatal mother-to-child efflux of commensal bacteria may exist. Therefore, the presence of such bacteria in meconium of 21 healthy neonates was investigated. The identified isolates belonged predominantly to the genuses Enterococcus and Staphylococcus. Later, a group of pregnant mice were orally inoculated with a genetically labelled E. fecium strain previously isolated from breast milk of a healthy woman. The labelled strain could be isolated and PCR-detected from meconium of the inoculated animals obtained by caesarean section one day before the predicted date of labor. In contrast, it could not be detected in samples obtained from a non-inoculated control group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Biodiversity
  • Enterococcus faecium / genetics
  • Enterococcus faecium / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Meconium / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pregnancy
  • Spain