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Gastroenterol Clin Biol. 2007 May;31(5):533-42.

[Establishment of the intestinal microflora in neonates].

[Article in French]

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Néonatologie et nutrition pédiatrique, Hôpital Saint Vincent de Paul, Université René Descartes, Paris, France.


The intestinal microbiota is a complex ecosystem harbouring about 10(14) micro-organisms composed of nearly 400 hundred species. It plays various important functions in the gut, including metabolic, flora, barrier and stimulation of the intestinal immune system. Most studies have been based on culture, but more recent molecular biology techniques have provided complementary information. The formation of this ecosystem begins rapidly in the newborn; it is sterile at birth and is based on contact with the maternal flora and the surrounding environment. Although little is known about the factors leading to the development of bacteria, numerous external factors will affect the microbial succession: mode of delivery, environmental conditions, type of feeding, gestational age, and antibiotics. Recent data report a delay in intestinal colonization especially of enteric maternal bacteria. Which may be due to strict hygiene measures during birth. The clinical impact of these variations is not known but they could lead to lack of barrier flora or poor immune system stimulation in the gut. Modulation of gut microbiota in neonates with infant formulas containing either probiotics, prebiotics or non viable bacterias and their metabolites, or nucleotides is discussed.

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