Appreciation of the importance of the gut microbiome is growing, and it is becoming increasingly relevant to identify preventive or therapeutic solutions targeting it. The composition and function of the gut microbiota are relatively well described for infants (less than 3 years) and adults, but have been largely overlooked in pre-school (3–6 years) and primary school-age (6–12 years) children, as well as teenagers (12–18 years). Early reports suggested that the infant microbiota would attain an adult-like structure at the age of 3 years, but recent studies have suggested that microbiota development may take longer. This development time is of key importance because there is evidence to suggest that deviations in this development may have consequences in later life. In this review, we provide an overview of current knowledge concerning the gut microbiota, its evolution, variation, and response to dietary challenges during the first decade of life with a focus on healthy pre-school and primary school-age children (up to 12 years) from various populations around the globe. This knowledge should facilitate the identification of diet-based approaches targeting individuals of this age group, to promote the development of a healthy microbiota in later life.
- gut microbiota