In this article, the investigators looked at the microbiota in critically ill children. Not much is known about how serious illness affects the microbiome. The author hypothesized that the loss of diversity, loss of body site specificity and the presence of pathogens at high levels can be associated with microbiota dysbiosis. The intended audience includes health professionals, physicians and other researchers in the biohealth sciences.
I believe the research is valid, the methods the researchers used were proper. This study could guide future research to hopefully capture a better essence of the behavior of the population. I agree with the author that the research done should be concerning to clinicians and help their understanding the microbiota has on critical illness.
There is a major pitfall to this study. The sample size was very small (n = 37). 37 children are not an accurate representation of the population. Repeatability is not possible because no two children with illness will be the same. Analyzing the same patient may not be plausible for repeatability because doctors will be attempting to treat the illness that they have. I found it surprising that 78 parents declined participation in the study. I’d presume many parents have negative feelings towards research, especially on young children who are ill. In any case, any reason for declining participation should be respected. This brings in an important component to microbiota research (and scientific research in general) is how ethical the experiments are. Scientists should consider if the research being conducted is worth the sacrifice from the subjects compared to what will be discovered.