Maternal-Child Microbiome: Specimen Collection, Storage, and Implications for Research and Practice

Sheila Jordan, Brenda Baker, Alexis Dunn, Sara Edwards, Erin Ferranti, Abby D. Mutic, Irene Yang, Jeannie Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background The maternal microbiome is a key contributor to the development and outcomes of pregnancy and the health status of both mother and infant. Significant advances are occurring in the science of the maternal and child microbiome and hold promise in improving outcomes related to pregnancy complications, child development, and chronic health conditions of mother and child. Objectives The purpose of this study was to review site-specific considerations in the collection and storage of maternal and child microbiome samples and its implications for nursing research and practice. Approach Microbiome sampling protocols were reviewed and synthesized. Precautions across sampling protocols were also noted. Results Oral, vaginal, gut, placental, and breast milk are viable sources for sampling the maternal and/or child microbiome. Prior to sampling, special considerations need to be addressed related to various factors including current medications, health status, and hygiene practices. Proper storage of samples will avoid degradation of cellular and DNA structures vital for analysis. Discussion Changes in the microbiome throughout the perinatal, postpartum, and childhood periods are dramatic and significant to outcomes of the pregnancy and the long-term health of mother and child. Proper sampling techniques are required to produce reliable results from which evidence-based practice recommendations will be built. Ethical and practical issues surrounding study design and protocol development must also be considered when researching vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and infants. Nurses hold the responsibility to both perform the research and to translate findings from microbiome investigations for clinical use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalNursing research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • microbiome
  • mothers
  • newborns
  • pregnancy
  • specimen collection
  • specimen handling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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