Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Daily skin-to-skin contact alters microbiota development in healthy full-term infants

List of AuthorsEckermann Henrik Andreas, Meijer Jennifer, Cooijmans Kelly, Lahti Leo, de Weerth Carolina



Publication year2024

JournalGut Microbes

Journal name in sourceGUT MICROBES

Journal acronymGUT MICROBES

Article number 2295403

Volume number16

Issue number1

Number of pages18





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The gut microbiota is vital for human body development and function. Its development in early life is influenced by various environmental factors. In this randomized controlled trial, the gut microbiota was obtained as a secondary outcome measure in a study on the effects of one hour of daily skin-to-skin contact (SSC) for five weeks in healthy full-term infants. Specifically, we studied the effects on alpha/beta diversity, volatility, microbiota maturation, and bacterial and gut-brain-axis-related functional abundances in microbiota assessed thrice in the first year. Pregnant Dutch women (n = 116) were randomly assigned to the SSC or care-as-usual groups. The SSC group participants engaged in one hour of daily SSC from birth to five weeks of age. Stool samples were collected at two, five, and 52 weeks and the V4 region was sequenced. We observed significant differences in the microbiota composition, bacterial abundances, and predicted functional pathways between the groups. The SSC group exhibited lower microbiota volatility during early infancy. Microbiota maturation was slower in the SSC group during the first year and our results suggested that breastfeeding duration may have partially mediated this relation. Our findings provide evidence that postpartum SSC may influence microbiota development. Replication is necessary to validate and generalize these results. Future studies should include direct stress measurements and extend microbiota sampling beyond the first year to investigate stress as a mechanism and research SSC's impact on long-term microbiota maturation trajectories.

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Last updated on 2024-01-03 at 07:50