Researchers in Finland found that a newborn’s microbiome, measured in his or her first stool sample, predicted whether the child would subsequently become overweight.
The researchers also reported that gut bacteria could be affected by maternal antibiotic use during pregnancy.
Katja Korpela, MD, of the University of Oulu in Finland, and colleagues conducted a prospective population-based cohort study of 212 consecutive newborns. The researchers collected the first-pass meconium, the substance forming the first feces of a newborn infant, as well as a stool sample at 1 year of age. With these samples, they conducted an analysis of the infants’ microbiome using bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing. They also collected information about antibiotic use after birth.
Korpela and colleagues reported that the newborns who had overweight at 3 years of age had almost twice the relative abundance of Bacteroidetes phylum (29%) compared with newborns who were normal weight at 3 years of age (15%; P = .015). When they used a machine-learning approach, they found that microbiome at birth predicted overweight at age 3 years with an area under the curve of 0.71. However, the 12-month microbiome profile did not predict subsequent overweight.
A linear regression analysis showed an inverse association between an abundance of Staphylococcus in meconium and the length of the child at age 1 year (P = .029) and age 2 years (P = .03).
Korpela and colleagues also reported that infants who received antibiotics had a lower abundance of Actinobacteria at 1 year of age (0.11%) compared with infants who only had prenatal or perinatal antibiotic exposure (0.28%) or no exposure (0.22%; P = .05).
According to the researchers, there was not a direct association between antibiotic exposure and obesity.
Recent studies suggest that gut microbiota could play an important role in the development of obesity in both children and adults, Korpela and colleagues noted. Research like theirs that identifies factors causing obesity at an early age could be helpful in preventing it. – by Bruce Thiel
Korpela K, et al. Abstract 3931. Presented at ECCMID; April 13-16, 2019; Amsterdam.
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.