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Role of Gut Microbiome in Pediatric GI Disease: Evidence Suggestive, But Not Conclusive

Intestinal dysbiosis may play a role in gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in children, and prebiotics and probiotics may be efficacious for treating these conditions, according to Philip M. Sherman, MD, professor of pediatrics, microbiology and dentistry at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, and the University of Toronto, and Canada Research Chair in Gastrointestinal Disease.

Dr. Sherman delivered a plenary address at the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting entitled, “The Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease: You Are Who You Live With!”

He noted that the development of the gut microbiota is complex, evolving from a relatively sterile environment in newborns to the heavily colonized adult scenario. Influences on the microbiome include the mode of childbirth (vaginal vs. cesarean delivery), infant diet (breast-feeding vs. formula feeding), hygiene (exposure to pathogens) and medications (e.g., antibiotics).

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