The intestinal microbiota has become a relevant aspect of human health. Microbial colonization runs in parallel with immune system maturation and plays a role in intestinal physiology and regulation. Increasing evidence on early microbial contact suggest that human intestinal microbiota is seeded before birth. Maternal microbiota forms the first microbial inoculum, and from birth, the microbial diversity increases and converges toward an adult-like microbiota by the end of the first 3-5 years of life. Perinatal factors such as mode of delivery, diet, genetics, and intestinal mucin glycosylation all contribute to influence microbial colonization. Once established, the composition of the gut microbiota is relatively stable throughout adult life, but can be altered as a result of bacterial infections, antibiotic treatment, lifestyle, surgical, and a long-term change in diet. Shifts in this complex microbial system have been reported to increase the risk of disease. Therefore, an adequate establishment of microbiota and its maintenance throughout life would reduce the risk of disease in early and late life. This review discusses recent studies on the early colonization and factors influencing this process which impact on health.
Keywords: diet; gut; maternal; microbiota; neonate.