The not-so-sterile womb: new data to challenge an old dogma

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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It has long been assumed that the human fetus develops in a sterile environment. However, over the last decade new data have emerged to challenge this dogma. Here, bacterial DNA profiles were analysed in first-pass meconium and amniotic fluid samples from 50 pregnancies, using techniques designed to minimise external contamination. Further, placental and amniotic fluid inflammation, microbial metabolites, and fetal immune responses in umbilical cord blood were measured. An additional 1198 mid-gestation amniocentesis samples were screened for bacterial DNA. Together, the findings provide new evidence that bacterial exposure occurs prior to birth, with potential effects on fetal immune development.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Western Australia
  • Payne, Matt, Supervisor
  • Keelan, Jeffrey, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date30 Apr 2019
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019


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