News: Probiotics prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in preemies

August 1, 2008

A finding from the cochrane neonatal Review Group shows that supplementation with probiotics significantly reduces the risk of sever necrotizing enterocolitis and mortality in preemies.

Enteral supplementation with probiotics (i.e., Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces species and Streptococcus thermophilus) significantly reduces the risk of severe (stage 2 or more) necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and mortality in premature infants weighing more than 1,000 g at birth.

The finding, representing a change in practice, comes from the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group and their analysis of nine relevant published randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials including 1,425 infants.

The researchers calculated that enteral probiotic supplementation reduced the incidence of severe NEC by almost 70% (RR 0.32; 95% CI, 0.17–0.60) and the incidence of mortality by more than half (RR 0.43; 95% CI, 0.25–0.75). No important adverse effects were reported. They could not, however, find evidence of a significantly reduced risk for nosocomial sepsis or days on total parenteral nutrition.

Alfaleh K, Bassler D. Probiotics for prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;(1):CD006181.

Cochrane Update: Probiotics for prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Obstet Gynecol. 2008;111:1202-1204.