Expert analysis refutes claims that humans ar

Professor Jens-Walter

Image: University College Cork & APC Microbiome Ireland Principal Investigator Prof Jens Walter assembled a transdisciplinary team of 46 leading experts from around the world to assess the evidence for microbes in human fetuses.
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Photo credit: UCC

According to researchers at APC’s University College Cork (UCC), scientific claims that babies harbor live bacteria while still in the womb are inaccurate and may have hampered research progress Microbiome Irelanda world-leading science foundation Ireland (SFI) research center which today (16.00 GMT 25th January) in the renowned magazine Nature.

Previous claims that the human placenta and amniotic fluid are normally colonized by bacteria would have serious implications for clinical medicine and pediatrics, and would undermine established principles of immunology and reproductive biology.

To test these claims, Prof. Jens Walter, principal investigator at UCC and APC, assembled a transdisciplinary team of 46 leading experts in reproductive biology, microbiome science and immunology from around the world to review the evidence for microbes in human fetuses.

A healthy human fetus is sterile

The team unanimously refuted the concept of a fetal microbiome, concluding that the detection of microbiomes in fetal tissues was due to contamination of samples taken from the uterus. Contamination occurred during vaginal delivery, clinical procedures, or during laboratory analysis.

In the report in NatureThe international experts encourage researchers to focus their studies on the microbiomes of mothers and their newborns and on the microbial metabolites that cross the placenta that prepare the fetus for postnatal life in a microbial world.

According to Prof. Walter: “This consensus provides direction for the field to move forward and to focus research efforts where they will be most effective. Knowing that the fetus is in a sterile environment confirms that bacterial colonization occurs during birth and early postnatal life, which is where therapeutic research on modulation of the microbiome should focus.”

The expert international authors also provide guidance on how future scientists can avoid the pitfalls of contamination when analyzing other samples where microbes are expected to be absent or low in abundance, such as: B. internal organs and tissues in the human body.


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