The Placental Microbiome Varies in Association with Low Birth Weight in Full-Term Neonates

Nutrients. 2015 Aug 17;7(8):6924-37. doi: 10.3390/nu7085315.


Substantial evidence indicated that low birth weight was an independent risk factor for obesity, impaired glucose regulation, and diabetes later in life. However, investigations into the association between low birth weight and placental microbiome in full-term neonates are limited. Placentas were collected from low birth weight (LBW) and normal birth weight (NBW) full-term neonates (gestational age 37 w0d-41 w6d) consecutively born at Peking Union Medical College Hospital. The anthropometric measurements were measured and 16S ribosomal DNAamplicon high-throughput sequencing were utilized to define bacteria within placenta tissues. It showed that birth weight, ponderal index, head circumference, and placenta weight were significantly lower in LBW than NBW neonates (p < 0.05). The operational taxonomic units (OTUs) (p < 0.05) and the estimators of community richness (Chao) indexes (p < 0.05) showed a significantly lower diversity in LBW than NBW neonates. There were significant variations in the composition of placenta microbiota between the LBW and NBW neonates at the phylum and genus level. Furthermore, it indicated that Lactobacillus percentage was positively associated with birth weight (r = 0.541, p = 0.025). In conclusion, our present study for the first time detected the relationship between birth weight and placental microbiome profile in full-term neonates. It is novel in showing that the placental microbiome varies in association with low birth weight in full-term neonates.

Keywords: fetal programming hypothesis; full-term birth; low birth weight; microbiome; placenta.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Placenta / microbiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / isolation & purification
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S