Microbes in the News 3




This article from Scientific American discusses multiple resent studies into the development of the immune system in infants. The first study discussed compared the immune responses of newborns that were born premature vs. full term. The study found very little difference between the two. A second, more broad study compared the imune systems of thousands of newborns from around the world, and also found very little variation. Scientists are now using the information from both studies to formulate a more clear baseline of what a healthy newborn immune system should look like.


In class we discussed the elements of the immune system, as well as how infacts are colonized at birth with microbial life. This article drew connects between these two things. It concluded that because most newborns all go through the same rapid colonization, their immune systems also evolve in the same way.

Critical analysis:

This article was interesting because I would not expect the ammount of similarity they found to be present. Also, I never considered that premature babies could have different immune systems. This article was clearly written for the general public. It summarized and cited multiple primary studies and included quotes from the people that wrote them.


Now that we know that all our immune systems are basically the same at birth, will we be able to determine a specific age when they start to varry?

3 Comments for “Microbes in the News 3”



This was a really interesting article, but I am curious as to why they would think that premature child and a fully developed child would have different gut microbiomes. We learned in class that babies develop their microbiomes after they are born, so why would there be a difference? If these children are in similar environments, it would stand to reason that they would have similar microbiomes. In response to your question, I believe that you could probably find out using more tests that follow a child’s microbiome throughout their lifetime.



I have read that babies born by cessarian section versus vaginally have different skin microbiomes due to contact (or no contact) with the mother’s vaginal microbiome. I would be curious if these two conditions had any major impact to a child’s, and eventually an adult’s, gut and holistic microbiome.



This article was really interesting. This goes to show how much of an impact microbes have on our lives. I would have assumed that premature babies would be different since they seem to have more problems later on regarding health. I agree with your critical analysis. It seems scientifically accurate because they talked directly about the primary research that was conducted. They did talk about the ‘first week of life’ multiple times, which made me think that the babies’ immune systems develop the same way for the first seven days after birth, but perhaps they start to diverge slightly after that point..? I’m curious as to why they kept phrasing it that way. I think if researchers continue studies like this that follow patients for a longer period of time, they could get much closer to finding if there is a specific age when our immune systems start to vary significantly.

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