The population of bacteria in premature infants’ guts may depend more on the babies’ biological makeup and gestational age at birth than on environmental factors, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found. They discovered that bacterial communities assemble in a choreographed progression, with the pace of that assembly slowest in infants born most prematurely.
A method of growing human cells from tissue removed from a patient’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract eventually may help scientists develop tailor-made therapies for inflammatory bowel disease and other GI conditions. Pictured are Kelli L. VanDussen, PhD, and Matthew A. Ciorba, MD, members of a School of Medicine team that developed the method.
Researchers at the School of Medicine are leading a nationwide clinical trial to determine whether one of the most commonly used probiotics can safely and effectively treat infants and toddlers suffering from acute gastroenteritis, otherwise known as stomach virus or “stomach flu.” David Schnadower, MD, is the trial’s principal investigator.
Babies born prematurely are surviving in increasing numbers, but many withstand complications of early birth only to suffer late-onset sepsis — life-threatening bloodstream infections that strike after infants reach 72 hours of age. The causes of late-onset sepsis have not been clear. But now, researchers at the School of Medicine led by Phillip I. Tarr, MD, and Barbara B. Warner, MD, have discovered that preterm babies’ guts harbor infectious microbes that can cause this condition.