Development of the cutaneous microbiome in the preterm infant: A prospective longitudinal study.

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PubMed ID: 28448623

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Pammi M, O'Brien JL, Ajami NJ, Wong MC, Versalovic J, Petrosino JF

PLoS One. 2017. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176669

Neonatal sepsis in preterm infants is often due to organisms that colonize the skin including Staphylococcus spp. and Candida spp. Development and maturation of the skin microbiome in the neonatal period, especially in preterm infants, may be critical in preventing colonization with pathogens and subsequent progression to neonatal sepsis.

The authors evaluated the skin microbiome from three body sites, antecubital fossa, forehead and gluteal region, in a prospective cohort of 15 preterm (birth weight < 1500 g and < 32 weeks of gestation) and 15 term neonates. The microbiome community membership and relative abundance were evaluated by amplification and sequencing the bacterial V3-V5 region of the16S rRNA gene on the 454 GS FLX platform. They used linear mixed effects models to analyze longitudinal data.

As results they found that the structure and composition of the skin microbiome did not differ between the three sampling sites for term and preterm infants in the neonatal period. However, skin bacterial richness was positively associated with gestational age in the first four weeks of life. Intravenous antibiotics negatively impacted the bacterial diversity of the skin but they did not see differences with respect to feeding or mode of delivery.

Finallly they conclude that:

Gestational age, which influences the maturity of skin structure and function, is associated with the development of the preterm cutaneous microbiome. Understanding the maturation of a healthy skin microbiome, prevention of pathogen colonization and its role in the development of immunity will be pivotal in the development of novel interventions to prevent infections in critically ill preterm infants.

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Javier Velasco