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Probiotic bacteria for infant gut health

Posted:  Friday, April 17, 2015

Italian researchers, in their new study, found that providing a special strain of probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 early on to hospitalised infants may prevent build up of pathogenic bacteria such as Enterobacteriacea, Enterococci and diarrhoeagenic bacteria E. Coli, thus protecting the tender infant gut.

The results of this Italian study were reported in the journal Clinica Chemica Acta. The researchers analysed faecal samples from 60 infants; one group received 100 colony forming units (CFU) of probiotics, whereas the other group (the control group) received no probiotic supplementation.

The researchers found no difference between the groups supplemented with lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. However, they found an association between L. reuteri supplementation and total anaerobic gram positive counts. The researchers also found that the control group reported higher levels of anaerobic gram positive bacteria than the probiotic supplementation group.

Consumption of the probiotic L. reuteri was associated with significant antimicrobial effects against pathogens such as Salmonella spp., Coronobacter sakazakii, H. alvei, K. pneumoniae, K. oxytossa and E. cloacae. Additionally, under anaerobic growth conditions, L. reuteri generates a potent antimicrobial compound by the name reuterin, a derivative of glycerol.

Previous research has shown that the growth of gram negative bacilli may increase susceptibility to necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) and sepsis. The probiotic group recorded a reduction in the numbers of gram negative bacteria indicating a beneficial effect of probiotic supplementation in the prevention of NEC. The researchers suggest further studies to understand the colonisation mechanism of this unique probiotic strain.

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