The influence of prenatal and intrapartum antibiotics on intestinal microbiota colonisation in infants: A systematic review

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Objectives: The intestinal microbiota develops in early infancy and is essential for health status early and later in life. In this review we focus on the effect of prenatal and intrapartum maternally administered antibiotics on the infant intestinal microbiota. Methods: A systematic literature search was conducted in PubMed and EMBASE. All studies reporting effect on diversity or microbiota profiles were included. Results: A total of 4.030 records were encountered. A total of 24 articles were included in the final analysis. Infants from mothers exposed to antibiotics during delivery showed a decreased microbial diversity compared to non-exposed infants. The microbiota of infants exposed to antibiotics was characterised by a decreased abundance of Bacteriodetes and Bifidobacteria, with a concurrent increase of Proteobacteria. These effects were most pronounced in term vaginally born infants. Conclusion: Maternal administration of antibiotics seems to have profound effects on the infant gut microbiota colonisation. Interpretation of microbiota aberrations in specific populations, such as preterm and caesarean born infants, is complicated by multiple confounding factors and by lack of high quality studies and high heterogeneity in study design. Further research is needed to investigate the potential short- and long-term clinical consequences of these microbial alterations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-204
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Infection
Issue number2
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Microbiota
  • Perinatology
  • Pregnancy

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