Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Probiotics could be the answer to NEC in preterm infants
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is one of the most devastating neonatal diseases. It predominantly affects preterm infants, who have specific risk factors leading to intestinal dysbiosis.
NEC is a multifactorial disease and prematurity is a well-recognised risk factor – approximately 90% of the infants who develop NEC are born preterm.
This is probably due to specific comorbidities of prematurity, such as immunodeficiency, use of broad-spectrum antimicrobials, delayed enteral feeding and low availability of human milk.
Given the substantial morbidity, mortality and health-care costs related to the disease, NEC has been priority for research.
The good news is that a recent a systematic review and meta-analysis of role probiotics can play in preventing NEC, published in the Italian Journal of Pediatrics, has found that manipulations of gut microbiota through probiotics have the potential to prevent NEC in preterm infants.
The results of the meta analysis confirm that research on probiotics and NEC is on the right track, but also suggest that, before radically changing clinical practice, several unanswered questions should be addressed to clarify the effect of probiotics in high-risk populations (i.e., ELBWs, IUGRs), as well as the most effective probiotic product and appropriate dosage and duration of any supplementation.
For further details about the study and its conclusions, read the full study: Probiotics for prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants: systematic review and meta-analysis