Vitamin D supplementation is associated with a lower abundance of the bacteria Megamonas at 3 months of age, according to a new study published in Gut Microbes.

Vitamin D supports bone metabolism and healthy immune system development, making it critical in early life, according to the study authors. Infants will normally receive vitamin D as a supplement or through commercial infant formulas.  

The research was part of the CHILD Cohort Study, which followed 3500 Canadian children from birth to adolescence in hopes of discovering the root causes of allergies, asthma, obesity, and other chronic disease. 

Fecal samples were taken from 1157 infants during home visits. The study authors found that vitamin D supplementation was associated with lower levels of Megamonas. This was regardless of whether the baby was breastfed or formula fed. 

The study also found that nearly 30% of infants carried C. difficile; however, this was lower among exclusively breastfed infants. Vitamin D supplementation was not associated with C. difficile colonization. According to the study authors, vitamin D-fortified milk was the only factor that reduced the likelihood of C. difficile colonization. 

"Low vitamin D levels have been associated with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)--a common lung infection among infants--and more recently, susceptibility to COVID-19 disease…In the CHILD Cohort Study, we have a unique opportunity to follow our study children as they get older to understand how microbial changes observed as a result of dietary interventions may be associated with later health outcomes such as asthma and viral infections," study senior author Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and a CHILD Cohort Study investigator, said in the press release.

An infant’s gut microbiota changes rapidly in early life, the study authors said. Understanding the factors associated with microbial communities in the infant gut is key in understanding this developmental period. 

Reference:
Influence of vitamin D supplementation on a baby's gut microbiome (News release) Alberta, Canada, August 18, 2020, EurekAlert! Accessed August 19, 2020