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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2010 Apr;21(2):149-56. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2010.03.020. Epub 2010 Apr 29.

Programming infant gut microbiota: influence of dietary and environmental factors.

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Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Co. Cork, Ireland.


The neonatal period is crucial for intestinal colonisation, and the composition of this ecosystem in early life is influenced by such factors as mode of birth, environment, diet and antibiotics. The intestinal microbiota contributes to protection against pathogens, maturation of the immune system and metabolic welfare of the host, but under some circumstances can contribute to the pathogenesis of certain diseases. Because colonisation with non-pathogenic microbiota is important for infant health and may affect health in later life, it is important to understand how the composition of this microbial organ is established and by which dietary means (e.g. supplementation with prebiotics/probiotics/food ingredients) it can be programmed in order to achieve an ecosystem that is valuable for the host.

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