Building Babies

Volume 37 of the series Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects pp 233-256


Infant Gut Microbiota: Developmental Influences and Health Outcomes

  • Melanie A. MartinAffiliated withIntegrative Anthropological Sciences, University of California Santa Barbara Email author 
  • , David A. SelaAffiliated withRobert Mondavi Institute, University of California Davis

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Primates harbor diverse communities of gut bacteria that enhance host energy extraction, regulate metabolism and energy storage, protect against pathogens, and modulate immune responses. The Dynamic host-gut bacterial relationship begins at birth, when maternal and environmental bacteria colonize sterile infant GI Tracts. Host diet and exposure to environmental and pathogenic bacteria continue to influence gut microbial composition through infancy and beyond. During infancy, breast milk promotes the establishment and growth beneficial bacteria through both direct transmission and multiple biochemical and immunological factors. The development and integrity of gut microbial communities during infancy may have implications for primate developmental trajectories after weaning, particularly in relation to metabolic and immune functioning later in life


Symbiosis Immune system Lactation Commensal bacteria Milk Metabolic processes