Title: 3172 - Disturbed Pre-term Oral Microbiota is Restored to Resemble Full-term Infants


Caitlin Selway (Presenter)
University of Adelaide

Carmel Collins, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
Irmeli Penttila, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
Naomi Fink, McMaster University
Laura Weyrich, University of Adelaide


Objectives: Pre-term infants have a lower life expectancy and are highly susceptible to immune diseases due to the underdevelopment of critical organs (especially the lungs), complications associated with birth, and alterations to the microbial community composition (microbiota). The microbiota profile and timing of colonisation is essential for the development and health of an infant; an imbalance of microbiota can cause disease. Although investigations into the gut microbiota of pre-term infants has recently been undertaken, the oral microbiota – a direct route that may seed the microorganisms within the lungs – has not yet been characterised.

Methods: Here, we describe and track the development of the oral microbiota of 51 pre-term infants over approximately eight weeks (±4 weeks) in Adelaide, Australia, using a metabarcoding approach designed to explore bacterial and fungal communities in the mouth.

Results: We found that the bacterial composition of pre-term infant oral microbiota, within a week postpartum, was similar to infants whom had not received maternal skin-to-skin contact directly after birth (dominated by Corynebacterium and Pseudomonas). By eight weeks, the pre-term infant oral microbial composition and diversity shifted to that resembling full-term infants, although it was still significantly impacted by both birthing mode (p = 0.004) and the sex of the infant (p = 0.036).

Conclusions: This is the first study in characterising the oral microbiota development in pre-terms at multiple time-points. These results highlight how the microbiota may play unique roles in diseases that pre-term infants are more susceptible to in early life and sets the ground work to explore how an initial imbalance of microbes early in life may have long-term health effects.

Disclosure Statement:
The submitter must disclose the names of the organizations with which any author have a relationship, the nature of the relationship, and the clinical or research area involved. The following is submitted: NONE