Medical Discovery News

Something surprising in Infants' diapers (Really?)

August 08, 2023 Medical Discovery News Season 18 Episode 873
Something surprising in Infants' diapers (Really?)
Medical Discovery News

873 - Something Surprising in Infants Diapers

Welcome to Medical Discovery News.  I’m Dr. Norbert Herzog

And I’m Dr. David Niesel. 

With two grown children now, I’ve changed my share of diapers but Norbert - not once did I consider that brown mess – precious… 

That’s certainly not how I’d describe dirty diapers! 

But it’s true! Their poop was partly responsible for them staying healthy. Infants have little to no microbiome at birth. That’s the bacteria that live in each person’s gut. 

Establishing a healthy one is crucial in developing a child’s immune system and helping them avoid issues such as asthma, allergies, respiratory infections, diabetes, and obesity. 

But that role isn’t limited to bacteria. The gut virome which are the viruses in our gut also keep us healthy. And we have ten times more of viruses than bacteria which means there are close to a quadrillion viruses which is one followed by fifteen zeros!

Many of these viruses are bacteriophages which means they attack bacteria including the ones that harm us. A recent study of over six hundred Danish one-year olds looked at the viruses in their poop. 

Ten thousand new viruses were found and these had a role in shaping which bacteria populated the children’s guts.  

Already, poop transplants have been done to treat gut infections. Viral therapies are used in C.Diff bacterial infections which are potentially life threatening. Similar viral therapies can also treat some forms of diet induced obesity. 

The new viral families discovered in this study have been named after the children in the study, so there’s the Amandaviridae and Alberteviridae… 

We are Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, at UTMB and Quinnipiac University, where biomedical discoveries shape the future of medicine.   For much more and our disclaimer go to or subscribe to our podcast. Sign up for expanded print episodes at