Affiliated Bayi Children's Hospital, The Seventh Medical Center of PLA General Hospital, Beijing 100700, China; National Engineering Laboratory for Birth Defects Prevention and Control of Key Technology, Beijing 100700, China; Beijing Key Laboratory of Pediatric Organ Failure, Beijing 100700, China. Electronic address: [Email]
Trillions of microbes reside in the human body and participate in multiple physiological and pathophysiological processes that affect host health throughout the life cycle. The microbiome is hallmarked by distinctive compositional and functional features across different life periods. Accumulating evidence has shown that microbes residing in the human body may play fundamental roles in infant development and the maturation of the immune system. Gut microbes are thought to be essential for the facilitation of infantile and childhood development and immunity by assisting in breaking down food substances to liberate nutrients, protecting against pathogens, stimulating or modulating the immune system, and exerting control over the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This review aims to summarize the current understanding of the colonization and development of the gut microbiota in early life, highlighting the recent findings regarding the role of intestinal microbes in pediatric diseases. Furthermore, we also discuss the microbiota-mediated therapeutics that can reconfigure bacterial communities to treat dysbiosis.