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Volume 562 Issue 7728, 25 October 2018

Security blanket

The development of the gut microbiome from birth through to childhood is thought to be important for the pathology of diseases such as type 1 diabetes, but much is yet to be learnt about this phase of our microbiome development. Two papers in this issue draw on the most comprehensive data set on the infant microbiome to date to shed fresh light on this transitionary stage. The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study spans six research centres in the United States, Sweden, Germany and Finland. In one paper, Joseph Petrosino and his colleagues use gene sequencing to analyse 12,500 stool samples from 903 infants, collected monthly from the age of 3 to 46 months. They characterize the development of the microbiome in this cohort into three distinct phases, and observe how breastfeeding, among other notable factors, contributes significantly to this process. In a second paper, Curtis Huttenhower and his colleagues analysed nearly 11,000 stool samples from 783 infants in the TEDDY study to characterize the early gut microbiome in type 1 diabetes. They find that microbiomes in infants who do not progress towards type 1 diabetes have more genes related to fermentation and the synthesis of short-chain fatty acids, which is suggestive of a potential protective effect.

Cover image: Alberto Seveso

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