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Your Baby

Our team is learning more about the microbiome of babies and its relation to allergy development, and you can help!



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The Microbiome


The microbiome is a term used to describe all of the microbes, like bacteria and fungi, which live in the intestinal tract of all humans.


It's important to remember that not all microbes make us sick! Our microbiomes perform important tasks for us, such as digest our food, protect us from infections and help our immune systems develop.


Humans are born without a microbiome and we develop our own unique collection of microbes as we grow. How this happens, and what is considered a healthy microbiome, is still mostly unknown. We know certain factors help to shape our microbiome, including our diets, environment and exposure to things like antibiotics.


The adult human body is actually only about 25% human cells.


Your baby will get some of it’s microbes from your birth canal and skin, as well as the skin of other care givers.


Most people take antibiotics at least once to clear up an infection. Antibiotics can also change your microbiome, sometimes forever.


Breast milk and formula have different types of sugars that microbes eat. That’s one reason why breast-fed babies have different microbes than formula-fed babies.


Where you live, how many people are in your family and whether or not you have pets can all impact the types of microbes you and your baby will have.


More Information


More information about the microbiomes of adults and babies can be found here:


Study Resources 


Microbiome FAQ (additional infographics and pamphlets)


Our Research Publications





Who We Are

Cheryl Gale, MD


Cheryl is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota and is a pediatric neonatologist at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital. Her laboratory studies how fungi cause disease in premature infants and how fungal microbiomes are involved in infant and later-life health.

Mary Pat Osborne, MN, RN


Mary Pat is a clinical research nurse coordinator at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. She specializes in initiating new trials, coordinating the enrollment of eligible patients, performing patient evaluations, handling patient data and tissue samples.

Carrie Ann Terrell, MD, FACOG


Carrie Ann is the  Division Chief of general Ob-Gyn and the medical director of the University of Minnesota Women's Health Specialists' Clinic. She runs an integrative, comprehensive women's clinic with an interprofessional approach. She teaches learners from multiple disciplines as well as medical students and residents.

Michael Sadowsky, PhD


Michael Sadowsky is a Distinguished McKnight Professor in the University's department of Soil, Water and Climate. Dr. Sadowsky is Director of The Biotechnology Institute, and studies the ecology of human and environmental microbiomes.

Dan Knights, PhD


Dan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and the Biotechnology Intstitute at the University of Minnesota. His lab specializes in ways to best study the trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies.

Our Mission


As scientists and clinicians it is our goal to better understand the microbial world that surrounds us. With your help, we will be able to determine:


- Which bacteria and fungi make up a healthy microbiome


- How the microbiome develops as we grow


- If the microbiome can influence allergy and asthma development


Join Us!


We would like to invite you to participate in a research study that determines the microbiome of infants and its relation to allergy development.  To participate, we will ask you do donate the samples listed below and participate in 3 short phone questionnaires.

Clincal Samples

Birth Canal & skin swab at your prenatal visit

Birth canal & skin swab during labor

Skin swab of baby after birth

Baby's first stool sample

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Home Samples

3 at-home stool samples from your baby

1 breast milk or formula sample

3 short phone questionnaires about health status

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Home samples will be collected using kits supplied by us.  Stool samples can be mailed back to us through standard US mail using pre-paid envelopes we will supply you.  Breast milk and/or formula samples will be picked up from your residence by a study team member.


In compensation for your time and efforts, you will recieve up to $50 in gift cards of your choice.

To participate, please contact:




Mary Pat Osborne, MN, RN


Mary Pat is a clinical research nurse coordinator at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. She specializes in coordinating patient participation.



(612)626-0644      or

Study Resources


Here are links to some of our study resources, such as videos on how to express milk and sample your baby's stool.  We also have copies of our posters, pamphlets and sampling instruction sheets.


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This research is funded by a Translational Research Development Grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Minnesota. 

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