In early life, the gut microbiota composition fluctuates and follows a dynamic and distinctive pattern of colonization. From approximately three years of age, a child’s microbiota becomes relatively stable and continues to be so throughout their lifetime. The first year of life is also characterized by the maturation of the immune system and there is evidence that the gut microbiota plays a vital role in the immune system development and potentially has a long-term impact on wellbeing and disease development during childhood. A group of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas investigated longitudinal 12,005 stool samples collected from 903 children between 3 and 46 months of age to understand the pattern of microbiota development in early years of life as part of The Environmental Determinant of Diabetics in the Young (TEDDY) study. The TEDDY study is a multi-centre study composed of Six clinical research centres: three in the USA (Colorado, Georgia/Florida and Washington), and three in Europe (Finland, Germany and Sweden).
The aims of the study were to :
Findings from this study found that:
In general, this study highlighted the importance of breastmilk on the maturation of gut microbiota during the first year of a baby’s life.
Stewart, C.J., Ajami, N.J., O’Brien, J.L. et al. Temporal development of the gut microbiome in early childhood from the TEDDY study. Nature 562, 583–588 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0617-x