Ruiz L, Moles L, Gueimonde M, Rodriguez JM - - J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016 Dec;63(6):e193-e203.
Microbial communities inhabiting the human host play important roles in maintaining health status, including reproduction and early life programming, which is particularly important in the context of preterm neonates’ health. Preterm birth (PTB) is often the result of a microbial dysbiosis or infection. In addition, preterm neonates experience different levels of organ immaturity and an abnormal gut microbiota establishment, as compared to full-term neonates. This exacerbates their developmental problems and can have negative consequences at systemic level. In addition, preterm babies are commonly exposed to delayed enteral feeding and hospital environments, which increases the risk of short- and long-term health problems. Some of these clinical conditions, such as necrotizing enterocolitis or sepsis, may be life threatening, whereas others may translate into life-long conditions, including cognitive problems. Increasing scientific interest has focused on understanding developmental problems in preterm neonates related to abnormalities in the settlement of their microbial communities, with the final goal of selecting appropriate microbiome-targeted strategies (eg, probiotics), to reduce preterm health risks and improve overall quality of life.This review aims to summarize current knowledge on microbiological factors influencing PTB initiation and gastrointestinal development, and on the health consequences to the preterm neonate. Scientific evidences on dietary strategies reducing PTB incidence and minimizing sequelae in this particularly sensitive human group subpopulation are also discussed.