From Birth to "Immunohealth," Allergies and Enterocolitis

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2015 Nov-Dec;49 Suppl 1(0 1):S7-S12. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000355.


Microbial signals stimulate development and maintenance of the neonatal immune system. The process begins in utero, with limited exposure to microbes in the intrauterine environment, as well as maternal immune signals priming the developing immune system. After birth and initial colonization, the immune system must be able to activate against pathogens, but also achieve oral tolerance of food and resident gut microbes. Through microbial signals and appropriate nutrition, the immune system is able to achieve homeostasis. Major challenges to successful colonization and immune system regulation include abnormal microbial inoculi (cesarean section, hygiene) and antibiotics. When normal colonization is interrupted, dysbiosis occurs. This imbalance of microbes and subsequently of the immune system can result in allergic diseases, asthma, or necrotizing enterocolitis. Probiotics and probiotic-derived therapies represent an exciting avenue to replete the population of commensal microbes and to prevent the immune-mediated sequelae of dysbiosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / complications*
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / microbiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / microbiology
  • Immune System / growth & development
  • Immune System / microbiology*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Probiotics