Prenatal household size and composition are associated with infant fecal bacterial diversity in Cebu, Philippines

Melissa B. Manus*, Elijah Watson, Sahana Kuthyar, Delia Carba, Nikola M. Belarmino, Thomas W. McDade, Christopher W. Kuzawa, Katherine R. Amato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: The gut microbiome (GM) connects physical and social environments to infant health. Since the infant GM affects immune system development, there is interest in understanding how infants acquire microbes from mothers and other household members. Materials and Methods: As a part of the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey (CLHNS), we paired fecal samples (proxy for the GM) collected from infants living in Metro Cebu, Philippines at 2 weeks (N = 39) and 6 months (N = 36) with maternal interviews about prenatal household composition. We hypothesized that relationships between prenatal household size and composition and infant GM bacterial diversity (as measured in fecal samples) would vary by infant age, as well as by household member age and sex. We also hypothesized that infant GM bacterial abundances would differ by prenatal household size and composition. Results: Data from 16 S rRNA bacterial gene sequencing show that prenatal household size was the most precise estimator of infant GM bacterial diversity, and that the direction of the association between this variable and infant GM bacterial diversity changed between the two time points. The abundances of bacterial families in the infant GM varied by prenatal household variables. Conclusions: Results highlight the contributions of various household sources to the bacterial diversity of the infant GM, and suggest that prenatal household size is a useful measure for estimating infant GM bacterial diversity in this cohort. Future research should measure the effect of specific sources of household bacterial exposures, including social interactions with caregivers, on the infant GM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-58
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Biological Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2023


  • household composition
  • infant microbiome
  • social environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • General Medicine
  • Anatomy


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