The microbiome may be influenced during pregnancy

I was pleased to see the microbiome in the NYtimes again with an article by Carl Zimmer, the article says that scientists are starting to see fetuses are seeded with microbes during pregnancy. And “they argue that this early inoculation may be important to the long-term health of babies. And manipulating these fetal microbes could open up new ways to treat medical conditions ranging from pre-term labor to allergies.”

This challenges a long standing theory that unborn babies are bacteria-free and are only covered in microbes during birth. However recently bacteria has been found in the stool of babies that challenges that assumption. Continue reading

Aspartame: a waste product of e. Coli

ImageUntil recently I was on the fence about Diet Coke. I used to dislike the taste of the sweetener, but then having gotten used to it, I started to crave the taste of it, the metallic sensation of a cold diet coke hitting the back of my throat, and the caffeinated buzz…

But it didn’t sit well with me that I didn’t know what aspartame, the artificial sweetener, was. Continue reading

Baby & Bacteria


Baby Bacteria

I just listened to the the talk, Microbiome Colonization and Assembly by Ruth Ley from the Human Microbiome Science: Vision for the Future conference. She gave some interesting insight into how they are starting to track the bacteria colonization of babies and how external events impact the microbiome.

Scientists are starting to measure how the influence of illness, antibiotics and changes in diet impact the microbiome. While the results are inconclusive, the impact of antibiotics is evident as is the introduction of a more varied diet in solid foods

Why don’t we know more about the human microbiome?

Sorry. I shouldn’t assume. I don’t know how much you know about the human microbiome. So rather, why don’t I know more about the human microbiome? As a member of the interested public, why is the fact that I am host to an incredible ecosystem of bacteria, and the fact that I have more microbial cells than human cells news to me? Continue reading

Are we haunted by the ghosts of parasites past?

Scientists figure that humans have been around for about 200,000 years. It’s difficult to imagine how different life was back then. I find it hard to imagine living 200 years ago in the days before light bulbs and refrigeration. But even before humans arrived on the scene, our ancestors have been evolving to survive in a pretty tough world.

We evolved to avoid being eaten by predators. We developed the tools we needed to hunt effectively. Our guts have also evolved to better digest our food and to withstand parasites and disease. Continue reading