Probiotics May Help Preterm Infants with NEC

December 27, 2013

Approximately 6-7% of preterm infants suffer from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), described as partial tissue death of the intestines.

Approximately 6-7% of preterm infants suffer from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), described as partial tissue death of the intestines. Twenty-five percent of infants with NEC don’t survive. But there’s potential good news: a mixture of Chr. Hansen’s (Hoersholm, Denmark) specific probiotic strains may help halve the risk of NEC in infants, according to a new study published in Pediatrics.

According to Chr. Hansen, this double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study on 1,100 premature infants in neonatal intensive care units is the largest NEC study to date. Subjects were given a mixture of Chr. Hansen probiotic strains Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12, Streptococcus thermophiles TH-4, and Bifidobacterium infantis BB-02 (containing 1 × 109 total bacterial organisms in total), or a maltodextrin placebo.

The probiotic group saw a 50% reduced risk of developing NEC. “The probiotics B. infantis, S. thermophilus, and B. lactis significantly reduced NEC of Bell stage 2 or more in very preterm infants, but not definite late-onset sepsis or mortality,” the researchers concluded.

“It is a very well-designed, large-scale study, and I consider this extremely strong data within an important indication,” says Chr. Hansen’s Dorte Eskesen, senior scientific advisor, health and nutrition division. “I am impressed that the study team managed to conduct a study of this size in vulnerable infants in neonatal intensive care units.”

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