Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Premature babies harbor fewer, but more dangerous microbe types

Date:
December 9, 2011
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
One of the most comprehensive studies to date of the microbes that are found in extremely low-birthweight infants found that hard-to-treat Candida fungus is often present, as well as some harmful bacteria and parasites.

One of the most comprehensive studies to date of the microbes that are found in extremely low-birthweight infants found that hard-to-treat Candida fungus is often present, as well as some harmful bacteria and parasites.

Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center and Nicholas School of the Environment looked at the microbes in 11 premature infants and found much less diversity than in full-term infants.

"The babies' guts were taken over by microbes we know are dangerous if they get into the blood," said senior author Patrick Seed, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke. "Even after the babies were no longer on antibiotics, healthier bacteria didn't appear in the babies very quickly. This may be one reason why premature babies are so vulnerable to infections."

All of the premature children were placed on antibiotic treatments after birth, which would wipe out some types of bacteria and yeast, but once they were off the antibiotics and taking food, the researchers expected to see more diversity of bacteria in the babies' developing digestive systems than they found.

The findings were published in PLoS One open-access journal on December 8, 2011.

Five infants had blood infections while three had necrotizing enterocolitis, an infection-related death of bowel tissue, said Seed, who is also with the Jean and George Brumley Jr. Neonatal-Perinatal Research Institute and the Duke Center for Microbial Pathogenesis.

Seed said that while the study babies were colonized mainly by organisms that were found in stool specimens, in some cases they also had infections with Staphylococcus epidermidis, a form of staph infection, that was abundant in many of the babies' digestive tracts.

The bacteria and yeast in the premature babies' digestive tracts are known causes of devastating infections in these babies. The gut seems to be a reservoir for some organisms that form infections, Seed said. Previous to this work, "we only knew the tip of the iceberg," he said.

The researchers used genomic (DNA) typing of the bacteria, fungi, and parasites to determine which types were present.

It's not clear if the newborns are picking up these early infections from their mother's milk, blood, or in other ways, or if the pathogens are from the environment surrounding the infants.

"It's important to know where these pathogens come from so that doctors can possibly manipulate the babies' environment or their digestive systems," Seed said. He noted that other studies had shown value for giving babies probiotic substances to tip the internal balance toward more favorable bacteria, necessary for immunity and better health.

Seed stressed that certain bacteria and other microbes are helpful for growing babies and their immune systems, so it is important not to do any damage by creating an antiseptic environment.

"It's a question of balance," Seed said. "As vulnerable as these babies are, we still wouldn't want to wipe out all of the bacteria, even all of the potentially harmful bacteria."

Other authors include Mariam LaTuga, Michael Cotton, Ronald Goldberg and James Wynn of Duke Department of Pediatrics; and Christopher Ellis and Robert Jackson of Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment (Jackson is also with the Biology Department and the Center on Global Change at Duke University).

This research was supported by a pilot grant from the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, the Duke Department of Pediatrics -- Division of Perinatal-Neonatal Medicine, the Jean and George Brumley, Jr. Neonatal-Perinatal Research Network and the Center on Global Change, as well as support from the Gerber and Hartwell Foundations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mariam Susan LaTuga, Joseph Christopher Ellis, Charles Michael Cotton, Ronald N. Goldberg, James L. Wynn, Robert B. Jackson, Patrick C. Seed. Beyond Bacteria: A Study of the Enteric Microbial Consortium in Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (12): e27858 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027858

Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "Premature babies harbor fewer, but more dangerous microbe types." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208173641.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2011, December 9). Premature babies harbor fewer, but more dangerous microbe types. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208173641.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "Premature babies harbor fewer, but more dangerous microbe types." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208173641.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Ebola Costs Keep Mounting

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 23, 2014) The WHO has warned up to 20,000 people could be infected with Ebola over the next few weeks. As Sonia Legg reports, the implications for the West African countries suffering from the disease are huge. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

WHO: Ebola Cases to Triple in Weeks Without Drastic Action

AFP (Sep. 23, 2014) The number of Ebola infections will triple to 20,000 by November, soaring by thousands every week if efforts to stop the outbreak are not stepped up radically, the WHO warned in a study on Tuesday. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

5 Ways Men Can Prevent Most Heart Attacks

Newsy (Sep. 23, 2014) No surprise here: A recent study says men can reduce their risk of heart attack by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes daily exercise. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins