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Sociodemographic Factors and Intestinal Microbiome Development in Preterm, Very Low Birth Weight InfantsFunding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health under award number “R01NR016964.”
Objective Preterm very low birth weight (VLBW) infants are at risk for intestinal morbidities and dysbiotic development of the intestinal microbiome. Despite the influence of sociodemographic factors on premature infant health outcomes, whether they shape the intestinal microbiome early in life is not clear. The objective was to explore the associations between race, sex, and socioeconomic status and the intestinal microbiome of VLBW infants during the first 4 weeks of life.
Study Design This was a secondary analysis of data from an ongoing randomized trial of 79 infants ≤30 weeks' gestation and ≤1,500 g. Stool samples were collected at week 1 through week 4, frozen to −80°C and analyzed by 16S rRNA sequencing of the V4 region using Illumina MiSeq. Reads were analyzed to measure α and β diversity as well as relative abundance of bacteria in the intestinal microbiome.
Results Of the 79 infants, 63 had at least one sample available. Twenty-three (37%) of infants were African American, 30 (48%) were male, and 44 (71%) had Medicaid insurance. There were no statistically significant (<0.05) differences in α diversity or β diversity, and the differential abundance analysis suggests limited patterns of distinction in the intestinal microbiome between non-African American and African American infants, male and female infants, and infants with maternal private or Medicaid insurance.
Conclusion Our results suggest race, sex, and socioeconomic status shape colonization of specific microorganisms to a limited extent. Future studies should confirm these findings and determine clinical relevance through further study of differentially abundant microorganisms and additional factors contributing to colonization patterns.
Diversity of the gut microbiome was similar between infants of varying race, sex, and socioeconomic status.
We observed sociodemographic-linked differences in colonization of individual taxa.
Further study is required to confirm these results and the clinical relevance of these findings.
Data Sharing Statement
The data that support the findings of this study are part of an ongoing, National Institutes of Health–funded clinical trial. Data will be shared at time of publication for the parent study.
Received: 04 November 2022
Accepted: 02 May 2023
Article published online:
28 August 2023
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