Institute for Global Health


Baby Biome Study

Nature magazine article, press release and FAQs

Findings of our study were published in an article in Nature magazine on 18th September 2019.  The article, as well as its accompanying press release and FAQs document, can be viewed or downloaded below.

We would like to thank participating families for their time and contributions to Baby Biome Study and to recognise the research midwives and other research staff for their hard work.

Project Summary 

We aim to understand how interactions between microorganisms, the immune system, and clinical, social, and behavioural factors during pregnancy and early life influence later health and disease. We hypothesise that the nascent immune system interacts with the first microbiota colonisers, driving immune-mediated disease when the colonisation process is disturbed. This work includes exploring the impact of elective caesarean section, and of antibiotics given in pregnancy or labour, on the development of microbiota in a child's gastrointestinal tract.

Baby Biome Study is a proposed large-scale UK birth cohort study and biobank, with longitudinal follow-up through electronic health data linkage to undertake ground-breaking research in this field.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, we have already completed a large pilot to Baby Biome Study, which has recruited nearly 3,500 mother-baby pairs at birth. Participants have been recruited from maternity units at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, and University College London Hospitals NHS hospital trusts. We are now seeking funding to expand this study to around 40,000 participants.


Field N, Townsend CL, Rodger AJ, Lawley TD, Riley EM, Brocklehurst P. Infection and immunity from a lifecourse perspective: Life Study Enhancement. The Lancet. 2013; Volume 382 , S35.
Brocklehurst. The microbiome in late pregnancy and mother to child transmission. BASHH Conference 2016. Oxford.
Bailey SR, Townsend CL, Rodger AJ, Dent H, Mallet C, Tsaliki E, Laszlo H, Brocklehurst P, Field N. Acceptability of collection of multiple bio-samples to birth cohort participants: implications for large studies. UK Molecular epidemiology group Winter meeting on Metabolomics. 2014. London.
Yan Shao, Samuel C. Forster, Evi Tsaliki, Angela Strang, Nandi Simpson, Nitin Kumar, Mark Stares, Alison Rodger, Nigel Field, Trevor D. Lawley. Stunted gut microbiota assembly and increased pathogen colonisation are associated with caesarean section: findings from the Baby Biome Study birth cohort. British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society. Edinburgh, UK 2019.


Links to other research

Other research in the UCL Centre for Molecular Epidemiology and Translational Research

Other research from IGH in MicrobiomeChild Health, Infectious DiseasesCohort Studies and Drug Resistance

Other research from IGH in the UK