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The FEEDMI Study (NCT03663556) evaluated the influence of infant feeding (mother’s own milk (MOM), donor human milk (DHM) and formula) on the fecal microbiota composition and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity in extremely and very preterm infants (≤32 gestational weeks). In this observational study, preterm infants were recruited within the first 24 h after birth. Meconium and fecal samples were collected at four time points (between the 2nd and the 26th postnatal days. Fecal microbiota was analyzed by RT-PCR and by 16S rRNA sequencing. Fecal ALP activity, a proposed specific biomarker of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), was evaluated by spectrophotometry at the 26th postnatal day. A total of 389 fecal samples were analyzed from 117 very preterm neonates. Human milk was positively associated with beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides ovatus, and Akkermancia muciniphila, as well as bacterial richness. Neonates fed with human milk during the first week of life had increased Bifidobacterium content and fecal ALP activity on the 26th postnatal day. These findings point out the importance of MOM and DHM in the establishment of fecal microbiota on neonates prematurely delivered. Moreover, these results suggest an ALP pathway by which human milk may protect against NEC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1564
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021


  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • Donor human milk
  • Formula
  • Gut microbiota
  • Mother’s own milk
  • Very preterm neonates


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