The nature of gut microbiota in early life: origin and impact of pioneer species

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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During early childhood, a complex ecosystem of thousands of species of microorganisms develops in our gastrointestinal tract. Disruptions in this development can have lifelong consequences and possibly increase the risk of diseases such as allergies and asthma. In this thesis, the influence of environmental and host factors on the early development of the microbiota was investigated. In addition, the microbiota composition of children in two birth cohorts in relation to the development of allergies and asthma was studied.
The oral administration of specific beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, may be a way to specifically manipulate the gut microbiota to achieve health benefits. The last research studied how administering different types of probiotics, consisting of lactobacilli and bifid bacteria, affects the microbiota and health of premature infants.
This thesis highlights that early childhood is a critical period in which targeted manipulation of the gut microbiota is possible in order to promote a healthy future and prevent the development of allergies and asthma.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • Savelkoul, Paul, Supervisor
  • Hornef, Mathias W., Supervisor, External person
  • Penders, John, Co-Supervisor
Award date30 Apr 2021
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789464191622
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • gut
  • microbiota
  • infant
  • development
  • allergy
  • probiotics

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