The second and third trimesters of pregnancy are crucial for the anatomical and functional development of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If premature birth occurs, the immaturity of the digestive and absorptive processes and of GI motility represent a critical challenge to meet adequate nutritional needs, leading to poor extrauterine growth and to other critical complications. Knowledge of the main developmental stages of the processes involved in the digestion and absorption of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, as well as of the maturational phases underlying the development of GI motility, may aid clinicians to optimize the nutritional management of preterm infants. The immaturity of these GI systems and functions may negatively influence the patterns of gut colonization, predisposing to an abnormal microbiome. This, in turn, further contributes to alter the functional, immune, and neural development of the GI tract and, especially in preterm infants, has been associated with an increased risk of severe GI complications, such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Deeper understanding of the physiological colonization patterns in term and preterm infants may support the promotion of these patterns and the avoidance of microbial perturbations associated with the development of several diseases throughout life. This review aims to provide a global overview on the maturational features of the main GI functions and on their implications following preterm birth. We will particularly focus on the developmental differences in intestinal digestion and absorption functionality, motility, gut-brain axis interaction, and microbiomes.

Development of the Gastrointestinal Tract in Newborns as a Challenge for an Appropriate Nutrition: A Narrative Review

Indrio, Flavia;Pettoello-Mantovani, Massimo;
2022-01-01

Abstract

The second and third trimesters of pregnancy are crucial for the anatomical and functional development of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If premature birth occurs, the immaturity of the digestive and absorptive processes and of GI motility represent a critical challenge to meet adequate nutritional needs, leading to poor extrauterine growth and to other critical complications. Knowledge of the main developmental stages of the processes involved in the digestion and absorption of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, as well as of the maturational phases underlying the development of GI motility, may aid clinicians to optimize the nutritional management of preterm infants. The immaturity of these GI systems and functions may negatively influence the patterns of gut colonization, predisposing to an abnormal microbiome. This, in turn, further contributes to alter the functional, immune, and neural development of the GI tract and, especially in preterm infants, has been associated with an increased risk of severe GI complications, such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Deeper understanding of the physiological colonization patterns in term and preterm infants may support the promotion of these patterns and the avoidance of microbial perturbations associated with the development of several diseases throughout life. This review aims to provide a global overview on the maturational features of the main GI functions and on their implications following preterm birth. We will particularly focus on the developmental differences in intestinal digestion and absorption functionality, motility, gut-brain axis interaction, and microbiomes.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11369/419428
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