Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 2
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Thompson, Amanda L. Monteagudo-Mera, Andrea Cadenas, Maria B. Lampl, Michelle L. and Azcarate-Peril, M. A. 2015. Milk- and solid-feeding practices and daycare attendance are associated with differences in bacterial diversity, predominant communities, and metabolic and immune function of the infant gut microbiome. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, Vol. 5,

    Lawrence, Robert M. and Pane, Camille A. 2007. Human Breast Milk: Current Concepts of Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, Vol. 37, Issue. 1, p. 7.


Intestinal microflora of human infants and current trends for its nutritional modulation

  • Konstantinos C. Mountzouris (a1) (a2), Anne L. McCartney (a1) and Glenn R. Gibson (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2007

Diet, among other environmental and genetic factors, is currently recognised to have an important role in health and disease. There is increasing evidence that the human colonic microbiota can contribute positively towards host nutrition and health. As such, dietary modulation has been proposed as important for improved gut health, especially during the highly sensitive stage of infancy. Differences in gut microflora composition and incidence of infection occur between breast- and formula-fed infants. Human milk components that cannot be duplicated in infant formulae could possibly account for these differences. However, various functional food ingredients such as oligosaccharides, prebiotics, proteins and probiotics could effect a beneficial modification in the composition and activities of gut microflora of infants. The aim of the present review is to describe existing knowledge on the composition and metabolic activities of the gastrointestinal microflora of human infants and discuss various possibilities and opportunities for its nutritional modulation.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Intestinal microflora of human infants and current trends for its nutritional modulation
      Your Kindle email address
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Intestinal microflora of human infants and current trends for its nutritional modulation
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Intestinal microflora of human infants and current trends for its nutritional modulation
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Dr G. R. Gibson, fax +44 118 9357222, email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J Ballongue , C Schumann & P Ouignon (1997) Effects of lactulose and lactitol on colonic microflora and enzymatic activity. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 32, 4144.

R Bennet & CE Nord (1987) Development of the fecal anaerobic microflora after Caesarean section and treatment with antibiotics in newborn infants. Infection 15, 332336.

R Bennet , CE Nord & R Zetterstrom (1992) Transient colonisation of the gut of newborn infants by orally administered bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Acta Paediatrica 81, 784787.

Y Benno , K Sawada & T Mitsuoka (1984) The intestinal microflora of infants: composition of faecal flora in breast-fed and bottle-fed infants. Microbiology and Immunology 28, 975986.

RD Berg (1996) The indigenous gastrointestinal microflora. Trends in Microbiology 4, 430435.

E Beritzoglou (1997) The intestinal microflora during the first weeks of life. Anaerobe 3, 173177.

E Beritzoglou , MB Romond & C Romond (1989) Modulation of Clostridium perfringens intestinal colonisation in infants delivered by Caesarean section. Infection 17, 232236.

LD Bourquin , EC Titgemeyer & GC Fahey (1996) Fermentation of various dietary fiber sources by human fecal bacteria. Nutrition Research 16, 11191131.

J Boza (1998) Nucleotides in infant nutrition. Monatsschrift Inderheilkunde 146, S39S48.

J Brand-Miller , P McVeagh , Y McNeil & M Messer (1998) Digestion of human milk oligosaccharides by healthy infants evaluated by the lactulose hydrogen breath test. Journal of Pediatrics 133, 9598.

CL Bullen , PV Tearle & MG Stewart (1977) The effect of "humanized" milks and supplemented breast feeding on the faecal flora of infants. Journal of Medical Microbiology 10, 403413.

MS Caplan , R Miller-Catchpole , S Kaup , T Russell , M Lickerman , M Amer , Y Xiao & R Thomson (1999) Bifidobacterial supplementation reduces the incidence of necrotising enterocolitis in a neonatal rat model. Gastroenterology 117, 577583.

WP Charteris , PM Kelly , L Morelli & JK Collins (1998) Development and application of an in vitro methodology to determine the transit tolerance of potentially probiotic Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species in the upper human gastrointestinal tract. Journal of Applied Microbiology 84, 759768.

M Christian , C Edwards & L Weaver (1999) Starch digestion in infancy. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 29, 116124.

M Cosgrove (1998) Nucleotides. Nutrition 14, 748751.

J Cummings , A Lee & D Storey (2001) Workshop: physiology and tolerance of LDCs. British Journal of Nutrition 85, S59S60.

JH Cummings & GT Macfarlane (1991) The control and consequences of bacterial fermentation in the human colon. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 70, 443459.

S Cunningham-Rundles & DHL Lin (1998) Nutrition and the immune system of the gut. Nutrition 14, 573579.

GR Gibson , ER Beatty , X Wang & JH Cummings (1995) Selective stimulation of bifidobacteria in the human colon by oligofructose and inulin. Gastroenterology 108, 975982.

MM Gronlund , OP Lehtonen , E Eerola & P Kero (1999 a) Fecal microflora in healthy infants born by different methods of delivery: permanent changes in intestinal flora after cesarean delivery. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 28, 1925.

MM Gronlund , S Salminen , H Mykkanen , P Kero & OP Lehtonen (1999 b) Development of intestinal bacterial enzymes in infants – relationship to mode of delivery and type of feeding. Acta Pathologica, Microbiologica et Immunologica Scandinavica 107, 655660.

E Gudmand-Hoyer & H Skovbjerg (1996) Disaccharide digestion and maldigestion. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 31, 111121.

P Gyorgy , RW Jeanloz , H von Nicolai & F Zilliken (1974) Undialyzable factors for Lactobacillus bifidus var pennsylvanicus: protective effects of sialic acid bound to glycoproteins and oligosaccharides against bacterial degradation. European Journal of Biochemistry 43, 2933.

P Gyorgy , RF Norris & CS Rose (1954) Bifidus factor I. A variant of Lactobacillus bifidus requiring a special growth factor. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 48, 193201.

A Hague , DJE Elder , DJ Hicks & C Paraskeva (1995) Apoptosis in colorectal tumour cells: induction by the short chain fatty acids butyrate, propionate and acetate and by the bile salt deoxycholate. International Journal of Cancer 60, 400406.

R Hammann (1982) A reassessment of the microbial flora of the female genital tract, with special reference to the occurrence of Bacteroides species. Journal of Medical Microbiology 15, 293302.

M Hamosh (1983) Lingual lipase and fat digestion in the neonatal period. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2, S236S241.

HJM Harmsen , ACM Wildeboer , GC Raangs , AA Wagendorp , N Klijn , JC Bindels & GW Welling (2000) Analysis of intestinal flora development in breast-fed and formula-fed infants by using molecular identification and detection methods. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 30, 6167.

R Hartemink & FM Rombouts (1999) Comparison of media for the detection of bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and total anaerobes from faecal samples. Journal of Microbiological Methods 36, 181192.

O Hernell & L Blackberg (1983) Bile-salt-stimulated lipase of human milk and lipid digestion in the neonatal period. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2, S242S247.

T Kaneko , T Kohmoto , H Kikuchi , M Shiota , H Iino & T Mitsuoka (1994) Effects of isomaltooligosaccharides with different degrees of polymerisation on human fecal bifidobacteria. Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry 58, 22882290.

K Kawase , T Suzuki , I Kiyosawa , S Okonogi , T Kawashima & M Kuboyama (1983) Effects of composition of infant formulas on the intestinal microflora of infants. Bifidobacteria Microflora 2, 2531.

WJ Kim (1993) Bacteriocins of lactic acid bacteria: their potential as food biopreservative. Food Reviews International 9, 299313.

PV Kirjavainen , AC Ouwehand , E Isolauri & SJ Salminen (1998) The ability of probiotic bacteria to bind to human intestinal mucus. FEMS Microbiology Letters 167, 185189.

B Kleessen , H Bunke , K Tovar , J Noack & G Sawatzki (1995) Influence of two infant formulas and human milk on the development of the faecal flora in newborn infants. Acta Paediatrica 84, 13471356.

T Kohmoto , F Fukui , H Takaku & T Mitsuoka (1991) Dose-response test of isomaltooligosaccharides for increasing fecal bifidobacteria. Agricultural and Biological Chemistry 55, 21572159.

C Kunz (1998) Complex oligosaccharides in infant nutrition. Monatsschrift Inderheilkunde 146, S49S56.

C Kunz & S Rudloff (1993) Biological functions of oligosaccharides in human milk. Acta Paediatrica 82, 903912.

E Lahov & W Regelson (1996) Antibacterial and immunostimulating casein-derived substances from milk: casecidin, isracidin peptides. Food and Chemical Toxicology 34, 131145.

JP Langhendries , J Detry , J Van Hees , JM Lamboray , J Darimont , MJ Mozin , MC Secretin & J Senterre (1995) Effect of a fermented infant formula containing viable bifidobacteria on the fecal flora composition and pH of healthy full-term infants. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 21, 177181.

AR Lari , F Gold , JC Borderon , J Laugier & JP Lafont (1990) Implantation and in vivo antagonistic effects of antibiotic-susceptible Escherichia coli strains administered to premature newborns. Biology of the Neonate 58, 7378.

A Lebenthal & E Lebenthal (1999) The ontogeny of the small intestinal epithelium. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 23, S3S6.

PC Lee (1983) Digestibility of starches and modified food starches. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2, S227S232.

MJ Lentze & EE Sterchi (1983) Hydrolysis of proteins and proteolytic activity. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2, S252S259.

J Levy (1998) Immunonutrition: the pediatric experience. Nutrition 14, 641647.

CH Lifschitz , EO Smith & C Garza (1983) Delayed complete functional lactase sufficiency in breast-fed infants. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2, 478482.

CH Lifschitz , MJ Wolin & PJ Reeds (1990) Characterisation of carbohydrate fermentation in feces of formula-fed and breast-fed infants. Pediatric Research 27, 165169.

G Livesey (2001) Tolerance of low-digestible carbohydrates: a general view. British Journal of Nutrition 85, S7S16.

B Lundequist , CE Nord & J Winberg (1985) The composition of the faecal microflora of breastfed and bottle fed infants from birth to eight weeks. Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica 74, 4551.

GT Macfarlane , C Allison , SAW Gibson & JH Cummings (1988) Contribution of the microflora on the proteolyis in the human large intestine. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 64, 3746.

GT Macfarlane , S Macfarlane & GR Gibson (1998) Validation of a three-stage continuous culture system for investigating the effect of retention time on the ecology and metabolism of bacteria in the human colon. Microbial Ecology 35, 180187.

P Marteau & B Flourie (2001) Tolerance to low-digestible carbohydrates: symptomatology and methods. British Journal of Nutrition 85, S17S21.

AC Midtvedt & T Midtvedt (1992) Production of short chain fatty acids by the intestinal microflora during the first 2 years of human life. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 15, 395403.

MR Millar , C Bacon , SL Smith , V Walker & MA Hall (1993) Enteral feeding of premature infants with Lactobacillus GG. Archives of Disease in Childhood 69, 483487.

KC Mountzouris , SG Gilmour , AS Grandison & RA Rastall (1999) Modelling of oligodextran production in an ultrafiltration stirred-cell membrane reactor. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 24, 7585.

T Nakhla , D Fu , D Zopf , NL Brodsky & H Hurt (1999) Neutral oligosaccharide content of preterm human milk. British Journal of Nutrition 82, 361367.

KE Norin , BE Gustafsson , BS Lindblad & T Midtvedt (1985) The establishment of some microflora associated biochemical characteristics in feces from children during the first years of life. Acta Paediatrica Scandinavica 74, 207212.

AC Ouwehand , PV Kirjavainen , MM Gronlund , E Isolauri & SJ Salminen (1999) Adhesion of probiotic micro-organisms to intestinal mucus. International Dairy Journal 9, 623630.

AC Ouwehand , SJ Salminen , M Skurnik & PL Conway (1997) Inhibition of pathogen adhesion by β-lactoglobulin. International Dairy Journal 7, 685692.

R Pakkanen & J Aalto (1997) Growth factors and antimicrobial factors of bovine colostrum. International Dairy Journal 7, 285297.

AM Parrett & CA Edwards (1997) In vitro fermentation of carbohydrate by breast and formula fed infants. Archives of Disease in Childhood 76, 249253.

A Pellegrini , U Thomas , N Bramaz , P Hunziker & R Von Fellenberg (1999) Isolation and identification of three bactericidal domains in the bovine alpha-lactalbumin molecule. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1426, 439448.

JA Peterson , S Patton & M Hamosh (1998) Glycoproteins of the human milk fat globule in the protection of the breast fed infant against infections. Biology of the Neonate 74, 143162.

BW Petschow , RD Talbott & RP Batema (1999) Ability of lactoferrin to promote the growth of Bifidobacterium spp. in vitro is independent of receptor binding capacity iron saturation level. Journal of Medical Microbiology 48, 541549.

A Pihlanto-Leppala , P Marnila , L Hubert , T Rokka , HJT Korhonen & M Karp (1999) The effect of α-lactalbumin and β-lactoglobulin hydrolysates on the metabolic activity of Escherichia coli JM 103. Journal of Applied Microbiology 87, 540545.

M Pletincx , J Legein & Y Vandenplas (1995) Fungemia with Saccharomyces boulardii in a 1-year-old girl with protracted diarrhea. Journal of Pediatic Gastroenterology and Nutrition 21, 113115.

EHHM Rings , EH Van Beers , SD Krasinski , M Verhave , RK Montgomery , RJ Grand , J Dekker & HA Buller (1994) Lactase; origin, gene expression, localisation, and function. Nutrition Research 14, 775797.

JM Saavedra , NA Bauman , I Oung , JA Perman & RH Yolken (1994) Feeding of Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus thermophilus to infants in hospital for prevention of diarrhoea and shedding of rotavirus. Lancet 344, 10461049.

H Saito , H Miyakawa , Y Tamura , S Shimamura & M Tomita (1991) Potent bactericidal activity of bovine lactoferrin hydrolysate produced by heat treatment at acidic pH. Journal of Dairy Science 74, 37243730.

T Sako , K Matsumoto & R Tanaka (1999) Recent progress on research and applications of non-digestible galacto-oligosaccharides. International Dairy Journal 9, 6980.

S Salminen , C Bouley , MC Boutron-Ruault , JH Cummings , A Franck , GR Gibson , E Isolauri , MC Moreau , M Roberfroid & IR Rowland (1998 a) Functional food science and gastrointestinal physiology and function. British Journal of Nutrition 80, S147S171.

S Salminen , AC Ouwehand & E Isolauri (1998 b) Clinical applications of probiotic bacteria. International Dairy Journal 8, 563572.

S Salminen & E Salminen (1997) Lactulose, lactic acid bacteria, intestinal microbiology and mucosal protection. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 32, 4548.

FL Schanbacher , RS Talhouk , FA Murray , LI Gherman & LB Willett (1998) Milk-borne bioactive peptides. International Dairy Journal 8, 393403.

E Schlimme , D Martin & H Meisel (2000) Nucleosides and nucleotides: natural bioactive substances in milk and colostrum. British Journal of Nutrition 84, S59S68.

A Schwertmann , S Rudloff & C Kunz (1996) Potential ligands for cell adhesion molecules in human milk. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 40, 252262.

E Sievers , HD Oldigs , G Schulz-Lell & J Schaub (1993) Fecal excretion in infants. European Journal of Pediatrics 152, 452454.

U Siigur , A Ormisson & A Tamm (1993) Faecal short-chain fatty acids in breast fed and bottle-fed infants. Acta Paediatrica 82, 536538.

S Silvi , CJ Rumney & IR Rowland (1996) An assessment of three selective media for bifidobacteria in faeces. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 81, 561564.

B Singh , AP Halestrap & C Paraskeva (1997) Butyrate can act as a stimulator of growth or inducer of apoptosis in human colonic epithelial cell lines depending on the presence of alternative energy sources. Carcinogenesis 18, 12651270.

PL Stark & A Lee (1982) The microbial ecology of the large bowel of breast-fed and formula-fed infants during the first year of life. Journal of Medical Microbiology 15, 189203.

Z Tamura (1983) Nutriology of Bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria Microflora 2, 316.

R Tanaka , H Takayama , M Morotomi , T Kuroshima , S Ueyama , K Matsumoto , A Kuroda & M Mutai (1983) Effects of administration of TOS and Bifidobacterium breve 4006 on the human fecal flora. Bifidobacteria Microflora 2, 1724.

WR Treem (1995) Congenital sucrase-isomaltase deficiency. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 21, 114.

JA Vanderhoof (1998) Immunonutrition: the role of carbohydrates. Nutrition 14, 595598.

ACM Van Hoijdonk , KD Kussendrager & JM Steijns (2000) In vivo antimicrobial and antiviral activity of components in bovine milk and colostrum involved in non-specific defence. British Journal of Nutrition 84, S127S134.

X Wang & GR Gibson (1993) Effects of the in vitro fermentation of oligofructose and inulin by bacteria growing in the human large intestine. Journal of Applied Bacteriology 75, 373380.

BA Wharton , SE Balmer , HM Berger & PH Scott (1994) Protein nutrition, fecal flora and iron-metabolism – the role of milk-based formulae. Acta Paediatrica 83, 2430.

H Yoshioka , K Fujita , H Sakata , K Murono & K Iseki (1991) Development of the normal intestinal flora and its clinical significance in infants and children. Bifidobacteria Microflora 10, 1117.

T Yuhara , S Isojima , F Tsuchiya & T Mitsuoka (1983) On the intestinal flora of bottle-fed infants. Bifidobacteria Microflora 2, 3339.

HD Zucht , M Raida , K Aderman , HJ Magert & WG Forssmann (1995) Casocidin-I: a casein-αs2 derived peptide exhibits antibacterial activity. FEBS Letters 372, 185188.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *