Sugars & Microbiome in Mother’s Milk Influence Neonatal Rotavirus Infection

Using a multidisciplinary approach, an international team of researchers from several institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, reveals that complex interactions between sugars and the microbiome in human milk influence neonatal rotavirus infection. Reported online on November 27, 2018 in the journal Nature Communications, this study provides new understanding of rotavirus infections in newborns and identifies maternal components that could improve the performance of live, attenuated rotavirus vaccines. The open-access article is titled “Human Milk Oligosaccharides, Milk Microbiome and Infant Gut Microbiome Modulate Neonatal Rotavirus Infection.” "Rotavirus infection causes diarrhea and vomiting primarily in children younger than 5, with the exception of babies younger than 28 days of age, who usually have no symptoms. However, in some places, infections in newborns are associated with severe gastrointestinal problems. What factors mediate differences between newborns with and without symptoms are not clearly understood," said first and corresponding author Dr. Sasirekha Ramani (photo), Assistant Professor of Molecular Virology and Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. "We began our investigation years ago by determining that a particular strain of rotavirus was associated with both asymptomatic infections and clinical symptoms in newborns." Dr. Ramani and her colleagues first looked for answers from the perspective of the virus. They investigated whether factors such as the amount of virus in newborns or the genome of the virus could be linked to the presence of symptoms in newborns, but did not find any connection between those factors. The researchers then posed the question from the perspective of the newborn.
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