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Viable bacterial colonization is highly limited in the human intestine in utero


Mucosal immunity develops in the human fetal intestine by 11–14 weeks of gestation, yet whether viable microbes exist in utero and interact with the intestinal immune system is unknown. Bacteria-like morphology was identified in pockets of human fetal meconium at mid-gestation by scanning electron microscopy (n = 4), and a sparse bacterial signal was detected by 16S rRNA sequencing (n = 40 of 50) compared to environmental controls (n = 87). Eighteen taxa were enriched in fetal meconium, with Micrococcaceae (n = 9) and Lactobacillus (n = 6) the most abundant.

  • Gastrointestinal System