Establishment of the gut microbiota in Western infants

Acta Paediatr. 2009 Feb;98(2):229-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.01060.x.


In adult individuals, the intestinal microbiota comprises several hundred, mostly anaerobic, bacterial species. This complex ecosystem is formed through the successive establishment of different bacteria in infancy and early childhood. Facultative and aerotolerant bacteria establish first, followed by more and more strict anaerobes. The bacteria derive from different sources and the colonization pattern is influenced by delivery mode and environmental factors. Commensal microbes provide the major drive for maturation of the immune system. Increased hygiene appears to have changed the gut flora of Western infants, which may affect the risk of developing immune mediated diseases.

Conclusion: It is clear that the process of infant colonization needs to be studied further, since composition of the microbiota may impact on child health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developed Countries
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestines / microbiology*