Fungal infections are a major health problem that often begin in the gastrointestinal tract. Gut microbe interactions in early childhood are critical for proper immune responses, yet there is little known about the development of the fungal population from infancy into childhood. Here, as part of the TEDDY (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young) study, we examine stool samples of 888 children from 3 to 48 months and find considerable differences between fungi and bacteria. The metagenomic relative abundance of fungi was extremely low but increased while weaning from milk and formula. Overall fungal diversity remained constant over time, in contrast with the increase in bacterial diversity. Fungal profiles had high temporal variation, but there was less variation from month-to-month in an individual than among different children of the same age. Fungal composition varied with geography, diet, and the use of probiotics. Multiple Candida spp. were at higher relative abundance in children than adults, while Malassezia and certain food-associated fungi were lower in children. There were only subtle fungal differences associated with the subset of children that developed islet autoimmunity or type 1 diabetes. Having proper fungal exposures may be crucial for children to establish appropriate responses to fungi and limit the risk of infection: the data here suggests those gastrointestinal exposures are limited and variable.
Bibliographical note© 2022. The Author(s).
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Endocrinology and Diabetes
- Child, Preschool
- Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1
- Gastrointestinal Tract/microbiology