Gut Microbiota: No longer the forgotten organ
Gut microbiome development in early life is linked to long-term health. Bifidobacteria make up to 90% of the microbiota of healthy breastfed infants born by vaginal delivery, but factors such as C-section birth, formula feeding, antibiotic use, preterm birth, diet and home environment can result in a less healthy microbial profile. Dysbiosis or imbalanced gut microbiota is associated with gastrointestinal and extraintestinal disease including diarrhea, allergies, infectious disease and inflammatory conditions. Strategies such as the encouragement of vaginal delivery, careful use of antibiotics, the promotion of breastfeeding, and timely appropriated introduction of complementary feeding can help to ensure infants have the best possible microbiome for healthy growth and development.