The developing gut microbiota and its consequences for health

Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. 2018; 9: 590–597. doi: 10.1017/S2040174418000119.


The developmental origin of health and disease highlights the importance of the period of the first 1000 days (from the conception to the 2 years of life). The process of the gut microbiota establishment is included in this time window. Various perinatal determinants, such as cesarean section delivery, type of feeding, antibiotics treatment, gestational age or environment, can affect the pattern of bacterial colonization and result in dysbiosis. The alteration of the early bacterial gut pattern can persist over several months and may have long-lasting functional effects with an impact on disease risk later in life. As for example, early gut dysbiosis has been involved in allergic diseases and obesity occurrence. Besides, while it was thought that the fetus developed under sterile conditions, recent data suggested the presence of a microbiota in utero, particularly in the placenta. Even if the origin of this microbiota and its eventual transfer to the infant are nowadays unknown, this placental microbiota could trigger immune responses in the fetus and would program the infant’s immune development during fetal life, earlier than previously considered. Moreover, several studies demonstrated a link between the composition of placental microbiota and some pathological conditions of the pregnancy. All these data show the evidence of relationships between the neonatal gut establishment and future health outcomes. Hence, the use of pre- and/or probiotics to prevent or repair any early dysbiosis is increasingly attractive to avoid long-term health consequences.