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Impact of intrapartum antibiotics on the infant gastrointestinal microbiome: a narrative review


Background The composition of the infant gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome has been linked to adverse long-term health outcomes and neonatal sepsis. Several factors are known to impact the composition of the microbiome, including mode of delivery, gestational age, feeding method and exposure to antibiotics. The impact of intrapartum antibiotics (IPAs) on the infant microbiome requires further research.

Objective We aimed to evaluate the impact of IPAs on the infant GI microbiome.

Methods We searched Ovid MEDLINE and Embase Classic+Embase for articles in English reporting on the microbiome of infants exposed to IPAs from the date of inception to 3 January 2021. Primary outcomes included abundance and colonisation of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, as well as alpha and beta diversity.

Results 30 papers were included in this review. In the first year of life, following exposure to IPAs, 30% (6/20) of infant cohorts displayed significantly reduced Bifidobacterium, 89% (17/19) did not display any significant differences in Lactobacillus colonisation, 21% (7/34) displayed significantly reduced alpha diversity and 35% (12/34) displayed alterations in beta diversity. Results were further stratified by delivery, gestational age (preterm or full term) and feeding method.

Conclusions IPAs impact the composition of the infant GI microbiome, resulting in possible reductions Bifidobacterium and alpha diversity, and possible alterations in beta diversity. Our findings may have implications for maternal and neonatal health, including interventions to prevent reductions in health-promoting bacteria (eg, probiotics) and IPA class selection.

  • gastroenterology
  • infectious disease medicine
  • microbiology
  • neonatology
  • paediatrics

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

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