Cutaneous microbiota in very preterm infants under the microscope


American researchers have recently provided the medical community with a genuine directory of the cutaneous microbiota of preterm infants. They have described its composition and evolution over the first four weeks of life. The basis for this work is the fact that severe infections occurring in these infants are caused by strains that colonize the skin. Staphylococcus and Candida, for example, are implicated in cases of septicemia. Infantsmay be predisposed to these infections due to the immaturity of their cutaneous microbiota. To understand its composition, the researchers took samples from three sites –the inside of the elbow, the forehead, and the buttocks–from 15 very preterm infants, born before 32 weeks of gestation, and from the same number of term babies. Their analysis showed that the microbiotas were identical in the three sample sites, but generally richer and more diverse in term infants. In the preterm infants, the Proteobacteria and Firmicutes families were predominant, particularly the genus Staphylococcus, but the diversity increased rapidly. Furthermore, the authors showed that the cutaneous microbiota is disrupted by the administration of antibiotics, but did not change based on method of delivery or type of feeding. The authors hope that this work will give rise to other studies with the goal of accelerating the maturation of the cutaneous microbiota in these preterm infants, potentially with the aid of pre- or probiotics, in order to improve the effectiveness of the skin barrier and reduce the risk of infection.



Pammi M et al. Development of the cutaneous microbiome in the preterm infant : A prospective longitudinal study. PLoS One. 2017 ;12:e0176669.