Development of Microbiota in Infants and its Role in Maturation of Gut Mucosa and Immune System

Arch Med Res. 2017 Nov;48(8):666-680. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2017.11.007. Epub 2017 Dec 2.


Dysbiosis of the gut microbiota has been associated with increasing numbers of diseases, including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergy, cancer and even neurologic or behavioral disorders. The other side of the coin is that a healthy microbiota leads to a healthy human development, to a mature and well trained immune system and to an efficient metabolic machinery. What we have learned in adults is in the end the result of a good start, a programmed, healthy development of the microbiota that must occur in the early years of life, probably even starting during the fetal stage. This review aims to present and discuss reports that helps us understand what we have learned of the development of microbiota during the early times of life, from pregnancy to delivery to the early years after birth. The impact of the establishment of "healthy" bacterial communities on human surfaces in the maturation of epithelia, immune system and metabolism will also be discussed. The right process of maturation of the bacterial communities that establish a symbiosis with human surfaces depends on a number of environmental, genetic and temporal factors that need to be understand in order to have tools to monitor a healthy development and eventually intervene to correct undesired courses.

Keywords: Delivery; Gut mucosa; Immune system; Infants; Microbiota; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Dysbiosis / etiology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / microbiology*
  • Infant
  • Infant Care / methods
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / microbiology
  • Risk Factors