Showing posts with label microbiome. Show all posts
Showing posts with label microbiome. Show all posts

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Microbiome and Vaccine Responsiveness

By: Editor-in-Chief Lewis First, MD, MS
Bifidobacterium adolescentis by YTambe via Wikimedia Commons

It seems that almost every recent issue of our journal has had an article on the microbiome and the role of probiotics in cultivating the composition of this environment to reduce the incidence and prevalence of common childhood illnesses like upper respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.

This month, we share a study by Huda et al. (doi: 10.1542/ peds.2013-3937) noting how the composition of the stool microbiome might indicate a better or worse response to oral and parenteral infant vaccines. For example, when the stool microbiota composition is rich in Bifidobacterium, thymic development and response to vaccines is enhanced. Other microbiome organism predominance appears to do just the opposite—again suggesting that what organisms predominate in the microbiome of the intestines can influence a child’s health and well-being.

Are you using probiotics in your patients? Are they getting fewer infections as a result? Share your opinion on this topic via a response to our blog, an eLetter, or by way of Facebook or Twitter.

Related Reading: 

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Glance Into the Future: Fecal Transplants for Weight Loss

Associate Editor Dr. William V. Raszka offers insight into topics in the news. This week, he reflects on fecal transplants reported to assist with weight loss: 

Each day I am bombarded with information about how to lose weight. There seems to be an almost endless array of diet or exercise recommendations and oodles of gadgets “guaranteed” to work. In the past few months, one of my relatives has tried to lose weight following the South Beach diet, then a Paleolithic diet, and most recently using a smart phone application. Maybe she should try a fecal transplant.

As reported in The New York Times (Health: March 28, 2013), the bacterial flora in our guts may be at least partially responsible for weight loss or gain. Researchers have never quite understood all the reasons why people lose weight following gastric bypass surgery. However, in a recent study conducted in mice, researchers concluded that approximately 20% of the weight loss is most likely due to a change in bacterial flora.

Fattened mice that underwent gastric bypass surgery lost weight and had altered intestinal flora. Mice that underwent a sham surgery where the intestine was simply severed and re-anastomosed did not lose weight and the microbiota did not change.

Next, intestinal contents from each group were transplanted into mice lacking intestinal flora. The mice that received material from the bypass surgery group lost weight while the mice receiving material from the sham group did not.

In a study conducted in adults with potential gastrointestinal disorders, researchers found that indirect evidence of the presence of Methanobrevibacter smithii in the gut was directly related to body mass. The individuals with the highest levels of methane and hydrogen on breath tests were more likely to have more body fat. One possible explanation for this finding is that M. smithii may contribute to the breakdown of foodstuffs, making more calories available.

The general dieter may not be ready for a fecal transplant to help increase weight loss, but the more we learn about our gut and the bacteria that inhabit it, the more we realize how intertwined we are.

*This filler excerpt can be found in the July 2013 Pediatrics print journal p. 71, or online here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Take Heart in Synbiotics: They May Play a Beneficial Role in Infants with Cyanotic Congenital Heart Disease

When prebiotics (a food or dietary supplement that can modulate gut flora) combine with probiotics (intestinal bacterial flora that are beneficial to one’s health), one gets “synbiotics”, the term reflecting the beneficial effect they can both have on each other.  So if one gives synbiotics to a sick infant, can it influence outcome?  Dilli et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1262) attempted to do just that by performing a prospective, randomized, blinded controlled trial on 100 infants to determine if synbiotics influence outcome in infants with cyanotic congenital heart disease.  Outcome measures studied included nosocomial sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, length of NICU stay, and death. 


The results are impressive in this study and suggest that synbiotics may be playing a helpful role in these sick infants.  There is a lot of interesting and informative information to digest, so if you want to learn more about synbiotics and their possible use in your sickest newborn patients, hyperlink to this study and read on.