The gut microbiome of extremely preterm infants randomized to the early progression of enteral feeding.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Early progression of feeding could influence the development of the gut microbiome.


We collected fecal samples from extremely preterm infants randomized to receive either early (feeding day 2) or delayed (feeding day 5) feeding progression. After study completion, we compared samples obtained at three different time points (week 1, week 2, and week 3) to determine longitudinal differences in specific taxa between the study groups using unadjusted and adjusted negative binomial and zero-inflated mixed models. Analyses were adjusted for a mode of delivery, breastmilk intake, and exposure to antibiotics.


We analyzed 137 fecal samples from 51 infants. In unadjusted and adjusted analyses, we did not observe an early transition to higher microbial diversity within samples (i.e., alpha diversity) or significant differences in microbial diversity between samples (i.e., beta diversity) in the early feeding group. Our longitudinal, single-taxon analysis found consistent differences in the genera Lactococcus, Veillonella, and Bilophila between groups.


Differences in single-taxon analyses independent of the mode of delivery, exposure to antibiotics, and breastmilk feeding suggest potential benefits of early progression of enteral feeding volumes. However, this dietary intervention does not appear to increase the diversity of the gut microbiome in the first 28 days after birth.

Trial registration identifier: NCT02915549.


Early progression of enteral feeding volumes with human milk reduces the duration of parenteral nutrition and the need for central venous access among extremely preterm infants. Early progression of enteral feeding leads to single-taxon differences in longitudinal analyses of the gut microbiome, but it does not appear to increase the diversity of the gut microbiome in the first 28 days after birth. Randomization in enteral feeding trials creates appealing opportunities to evaluate the effects of human milk diets on the gut microbiome.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Salas, AA; Willis, KA; Carlo, WA; Yi, N; Zhang, L; Van Der Pol, WJ; Younge, NE; Lefkowitz, EJ; Lal, CV

Published Date

  • September 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 92 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 799 - 804

PubMed ID

  • 34775476

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9098696

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1530-0447

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0031-3998

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/s41390-021-01831-w


  • eng