Microbes MATTR


Our team is looking for 3- and 4-year olds and their mothers to participate in a research study to help us understand how the microscopic organisms living on our bodies impact growth and weight.

There are tiny microscopic organisms, or microbes, living all over our bodies and together they are referred to as the microbiome.  Many of our microbes are beneficial to our health.

The research team at Children’s Hospital of Richmond’s Healthy Lifestyles Center is partnering with investigators from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology to conduct an exciting research study called Microbes-MATTR. This study will help us understand how mothers pass their microbes to their children at birth and in early life and how this impacts the child’s health.

The Microbes-MATTR Study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and there is no cost for participation.

About the Study

If you choose to participate in Microbes-MATTR, you and your child will be asked to attend a research study visit at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU that will take about an hour. You will be asked to complete a health survey and a food log for both you and your child. You will be provided kits to collect a stool sample for you and your child. During the study visit, staff will collect measurements of height and weight and samples using soft swabs.


You and your child may be eligible to participate in Microbes-MATTR if:

  • Your child is currently 3 to 4 and a half years old
  • You delivered your child by vaginal delivery
  • Your child was born full term (at least 37 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Your child was not admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at birth
  • Your child has not taken an antibiotic medication in the past 3 months (90 days)

To see if you and your child are eligible for participation in the Microbes-MATTR, complete the on-line Study Screening (link) or contact our Program Coordinator by calling (804) 828-6667, calling/texting (804) 484-9611 or emailing stephany.vivadelli@vcuhealth.org.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are next steps if I would like for my child and me to participate in the Microbes-MATTR Study?

  • After you complete the on-line screener or contact the Program Coordinator by phone, text, or email, a member of the study team will contact you to provide additional details.
  • If you are eligible and decide to participate in the study, you will be asked to:
    • Schedule a 1-hour research study visit at Children’s Hospital of Richmond of VCU.
    • Complete health surveys and food/sleep log for both you and your child.
    • Use kits provided by the study team to collect small samples of stool from both you and your child at home.

Q: What will happen at the research study visit?

  • The study visit will take place at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Usually visits occur at the Pediatric Research Unit located in Sky Lobby of the Children's Pavilion on the Medical College of Virginia Campus of VCU.
  • The study visit should take about one hour to complete.
  • During the study visit, staff will:
    • Review the study, answer questions, and confirm your desire to participate by completing the consent process.
    • Review health surveys and food logs.
    • Ask you to complete release forms for study staff to obtain copies of your and your child’s medical records. 
    • Receive stool specimens that you collected at home.
    • Measure your and your child’s height and weight.
    • Collect other microbiome specimens from you and your child using soft swabs.

Q: What type of microbiome samples are collected as part of the study?

  • You will be asked to collect a small amount of a stool specimen from both you and your child at home using collection kits that will be provided to you.
  • At the study visit, trained staff will collect an oral sample from you and your child using soft swabs that will be rubbed on the inside of your cheeks.
  • At the study visit, mothers will be asked to use soft swabs to self-collect their own vaginal and rectal samples.
  • At the study visit with you present, a pediatrician will use a soft swab to collect a rectal sample from your child using a process similar to that used for measuring a rectal temperature.
  • We encourage you to discuss any questions you have about sample collection with the study team.

Q: What if my child has taken an antibiotic in the past three months?

  • If your child has taken an antibiotic medication in the past 90 days you may still be able to participate in the Microbes-MATTR Study, but would need to schedule a study visit further out in time.

Q: How much does it cost to participate in the study?

  • There is no cost for participation in the Microbes-MATTR Study.
  • Participants will be expected to provide their own transportation to the study visit.
  • Parking at the Children’s Pavilion is free with validation.

Q: What will I receive for participating?

  • Compensation is available after you have completed the study visit and returned all the surveys and stool specimens.
  • You will not receive any specific information about the microbiome testing for you or your child.