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URMC / Research / Research@URMC / July 2014 / In Littlest Ones, Fewer Antibiotics = Healthier Gut

In Littlest Ones, Fewer Antibiotics = Healthier Gut

preemie babyAntibiotics given to preterm newborns disrupt the diversity of gut bacteria, but a shorter, two-day course of drugs has less impact than seven days or more of antibiotics, according to a study from a team in Pediatrics at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Researchers also found that in the cases of 29 infants, the bacterial diversity was flourishing again after 30 days, suggesting that despite any length of antibiotic treatment in newborns the gut can acquire additional intestinal microbes over time. This is important for future health of the infant. The process of amassing intestinal microbes starts before birth, and scientists believe that alterations occurring in the womb, at birth, and shortly thereafter might result in adverse consequences. Environmental factors such as mode of delivery at birth, antibiotic use and duration, and diet, all have a big impact on the microbiome.

The study was published in the journal Pediatric Research, by the labs of Ronnie Guillet M.D., Ph.D. and Gloria S. Pryhuber M.D.

Of the 29 preterm infants in the study, all were fed with breast milk and received a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics to prevent a devastating illness, necrotizing enterocolitis, for which they were at high risk. Researchers then analyzed fecal swabs collected at 10 days and 30 days using a special technique of mass spectrometry called 16S ribosomal RNA pyro sequencing, which is widely used for identifying specific types of microbes present in a sample.

Although the study does not provide enough evidence to change clinical practice, results showed a decrease in diversity of gut bacteria at the 10-day point among the infants who received antibiotics for a week or longer, compared to the infants who were treated with antibiotics for only two days. The infants in the latter group are perhaps the healthiest cohort to be described in this type of study, the authors noted. To read the full article, please click here.

Leslie Orr | 7/2/2014

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