The early settlers: intestinal microbiology in early life

Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2012;3:425-47. doi: 10.1146/annurev-food-022811-101120. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


The human intestinal microbiota forms an integral part of normal human physiology, and disturbances of the normal gut microbiology have been implicated in many health and disease issues. Because newborns are essentially sterile, their microbiota must establish and develop from the very first days of life. The first colonizers play an important role in the development of the ecosystem and may impact the long-term composition and activity of the microbiota. These first settlers obviously develop and proliferate dependent on host characteristics and diet, but other factors can also significantly contribute to this vital biological process. Considering the importance of the microbiota for the human immune, metabolic, and neurological systems, it is important to understand the dynamics and driving determinants of this development. This review gives a global overview of our current understanding of the different factors impacting the intestinal microbiology in early life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Mucosa / growth & development
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiology
  • Intestines / growth & development
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / physiology
  • Symbiosis