Yes, even healthy newborns have a diversity of viruses in the gut - this is their virome (community of viruses), and it undergoes changes over time. In fact, the entire infant microbiome (community of microbes) is highly dynamic and the composition of bacteria, viruses and bacteriophages changes with age. One interesting finding is that initially newborn babies have a lot of bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria), but that these decline over the first two years of age. From Medical Xpress:
Viruses flourish in guts of healthy babies
Bacteria aren't the only nonhuman invaders to colonize the gut shortly after a baby's birth. Viruses also set up house there, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. All together, these invisible residents are thought to play important roles in human health.The study, published online Sept. 14 in Nature Medicine, reports data from eight healthy infants and is one of the first surveys of viruses that reside in the intestine. The investigators analyzed stool samples to track how the babies' bacterial gut microbiomes and viromes changed over the first two years of life.
"We are just beginning to understand the interplay between all the different types of life within our gut," said senior author Lori R. Holtz, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics. "They are not stand-alone communities. We also are seeing that the environment of the infant gut is extremely dynamic, which differs from the relative stability that has been shown in adults."The earliest stool samples were taken at 1-4 days of life, and even at this early time point, Holtz noted, viruses were present. ...continue reading "Viruses Live in The Guts of Healthy Babies"
We know so little about the viruses in the human microbiome that a study just reported a newly discovered gut virus found in most of the world's population. From Medical Xpress:
Newly discovered gut virus lives in half the world's population
Odds are, there's a virus living inside your gut that has gone undetected by scientists for decades. A new study led by researchers at San Diego State University has found that more than half the world's population is host to a newly described virus, named crAssphage, which infects one of the most common types of gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes. This phylum of bacteria is thought to be connected with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases.
The fact that it's so widespread indicates that it probably isn't a particularly young virus, either. "We've basically found it in every population we've looked at," Edwards said. "As far as we can tell, it's as old as humans are." He and his team named the virus crAssphage, after the cross-assembly software program used to discover it.
Some of the proteins in crAssphage's DNA are similar to those found in other well-described viruses. That allowed Edwards' team to determine that their novel virus is one known as a bacteriophage, which infects and replicates inside bacteria—and using innovative bioinformatic techniques, they predicted that this particular bacteriophage proliferates by infecting a common phylum of gut bacteria known as Bacteriodetes.
Further details about crAssphage have been difficult to come by. It's unknown how the virus is transmitted, but the fact that it was not found in very young infants' fecal samples suggests that it is not passed along maternally, but acquired during childhood.