FEEDMI: A Study Protocol to Determine the Influence of Infant-Feeding on Very-Preterm-Infant's Gut Microbiota

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Preterm infants are especially vulnerable to gut microbiota disruption and dysbiosis since their early gut microbiota is less abundant and diverse. Several factors may influence infants' gut microbiota, such as the mother's diet, mode of delivery, antibiotic exposure, and type of feeding. Objectives: This study aims to examine the factors associated with very-preterm neonate's intestinal microbiota, namely: (1) type of infant-feeding (breast milk, donor human milk with or without bovine protein-based fortifier, and preterm formula); (2) maternal diet; and (3) mode of delivery. Methods: This is an observational study conducted in a cohort of very preterm infants hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit of Maternidade Dr. Alfredo da Costa. After delivery, the mothers are asked to collect their own fecal samples and are invited to complete a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. The maternal diet will be classified in accordance to the Mediterranean Diet adherence score. Stool samples have been collected from very premature infants every 7 days for 21 days. DNA has been extracted from the fecal samples, and different bacterial genus and species will be quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Results and Conclusions: It is hypothesized that significant differences in the microbiota composition and clinical outcomes of very preterm infants will be observed depending on the type of infant feeding. In addition, this study will clarify how pasteurized donor's milk influences the intestinal microbiota colonization of preterm infants. This is a pioneer study developed in collaboration with the country's Human Milk Bank. We also expect to find microbiota alterations in infants according to the mode of delivery and to maternal diet. This study will contribute to increase the evidence on the effects of breast or donor human milk and its fortification with a bovine protein-based fortifier on infant microbiota.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Gut microbiota
  • Intestinal microbiota
  • Very preterm infant
  • Breast milk
  • Donor human milk
  • Formula


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