A comparison of small bowel and fecal microbiota in children with short bowel syndrome

J Pediatr Surg. 2020 May;55(5):878-882. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2020.01.032. Epub 2020 Feb 1.


Background: Babies with short bowel syndrome (SBS) have small intestinal microbial disturbances that impact gut function. Characterizing the small bowel microbiota is challenging, and the utility of sampling stool is unclear. This study compares the microbiota from fecal samples and the small bowel.

Methods: Stool samples were collected (2016-2017) from infants with SBS and colon in continuity (COLON) or SBS with small bowel ostomy (sbSTOMA). The abundance and quantity of major bacterial genera was compared between groups and to healthy controls using 16S rRNA sequencing and qPCR. Kruskall-Wallis test was used for analysis with P values <0.05 considered significant.

Results: Samples (n = 41) were collected from 15 SBS infants (<2 years) (9 sbSTOMA, 6 COLON) and 3 healthy infants. Demographics and small intestinal length did not differ between sbSTOMA and COLON infants. The microbiota of SBS groups differed significantly from healthy controls. Fecal samples contained higher quantities of bacteria, but there were no significant differences between sbSTOMA and COLON groups in the abundance of facultative or obligate anaerobes, anti-inflammatory Clostridia, Enterobacteriaceae, or Bifidobacterium.

Conclusion: Infants with SBS have disturbances to their intestinal microbiota. Sampling small intestinal effluent is challenging. Stool samples may provide a window into the more proximal microbial community.

Type of study: Diagnostic.

Level of evidence: Level II.

Keywords: Intestinal microbiota; Short bowel syndrome; Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intestine, Small / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / microbiology*


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S