The maturation of skin microbiome communities during childhood is important for the skin health of children and development of the immune system into adulthood, but only a few studies have analyzed the microbiota in young children. In a new study, investigators in China found that bacterial genera in children were more similar to those of their own mothers than to those of unrelated women. Their data suggest that the mode of delivery at birth could be an important factor in shaping the child’s microbiome. They report their findings in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, published by Elsevier.
“To date, research into the maternal influence on her child’s skin microbiome has mostly limited to a narrow postpartum window in children younger than one year old and fewer studies have explored the maternal relationship with the child’s microflora after infancy,” explained lead investigator Zhe-Xue Quan, Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
The microbiota composition
Investigators examine the changes in the skin microbiota and analyze relationships between the skin microbiome and microenvironment as well as between the microbiota composition of children and mothers in 158 children between one and ten years old. The mothers of 50 of these children were randomly select and recruit to represent different child age groups.
Microbiota structures between the children and their mothers were compare using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Samples were taken from three skin sites: center of the cheek; one quarter of the length of the forearm from the hand; and the center of the calf. Data for 474 samples (three skin sites per child) were pool into 36 groups according to age, gender, and skin site.
Sample location and age were the primary factors determining a child’s skin bacterial composition; which differ significantly among the three sites. However, there was negative correlation between the abundances of Streptococcus and Granulicatella and age. The relative abundances of most bacterial genera in children; which were more similar to those of their own mothers than those of unrelated women.
Developing skin microbiome
The facial bacterial composition of 10-year-old children was strongly with whether; so they were born by Caesarian section or vaginal delivery. “By analyzing the microbial community structure at three very different skin sites of children; they demonstrate that the skin microbiome is strongly impact by the surrounding micro environment; also that the alpha diversity of the skin microbiome increases during childhood,” note Professor Quan.
“Our results suggest that the bacterial population on a child’s skin is to a large extent similar; to that of their mothers and is affect in the long term by the way they were deliver at birth. One possible explanation is that the developing skin microbiome interacts with the immune system; which may be educate by exposure to microbes during a critical window early in life. It means that microbial colonization runs in parallel with immune system development.”
The skin serves as the body’s first line of defense against environmental insult. It hosts approximately ten billion bacterial cells per 1.8 square meters. Skin-associated bacteria constitute a large proportion of the human microbiome; also interact with the host immune system via numerous pathways. Depending on the skin microenvironment; certain bacteria can act as either beneficial microbes or opportunistic pathogens.