Neonatal microbiota development and the effect of early life antibiotics are determined by two distinct settler types

Anat Eck, Nicole B.M.M. Rutten, Maartje M.J. Singendonk, Ger T. Rijkers, Paul H.M. Savelkoul, Clemens B. Meijssen, Clarissa E. Crijns, Johanna H. Oudshoorn, Andries E. Budding, Arine M. Vlieger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The neonatal period, during which the initial gut microbiota is acquired, is a critical phase. The healthy development of the infant's microbiome can be interrupted by external perturbations, like antibiotics, which are associated with profound effects on the gut microbiome and various disorders later in life. The aim of this study was to investigate the development of intestinal microbiota and the effect of antibiotic exposure during the first three months of life in term infants. Fecal samples were collected from healthy infants and infants who received antibiotics in the first week of life at one week, one month, and three months after birth. Microbial composition was analyzed using IS-pro and compared between antibiotics-treated and untreated infants. In total, 98 infants, divided into four groups based on feeding type and delivery mode, were analyzed. At one week of age, samples clustered into two distinct groups, which were termed “settler types”, based on their Bacteroidetes abundance. Caesarean-born infants belonged to the low-Bacteroidetes settler type, but vaginally-born infants were divided between the two groups. The antibiotics effect was assessed within a subgroup of 45 infants, vaginally-born and exclusively breastfed, to minimize the effect of other confounders. Antibiotics administration resulted in lower Bacteroidetes diversity and/ or a delay in Bacteroidetes colonization, which persisted for three months, and in a differential development of the microbiota. Antibiotics resulted in pronounced effects on the Bacteroidetes composition and dynamics. Finally, we hypothesize that stratification of children's cohorts based on settler types may reveal group effects that might otherwise be masked.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0228133
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Cite this