Probiotics may prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants

Babies born prematurely may lack enough beneficial bacteria to protect the intestinal tract from damage, a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). In this review of 44 scientific papers, doctors determined that the probiotics L. acidophilus and B. infantis appeared most effective in preventing NEC and preserving life.

Among the major findings for premature infants, compared to placebo, probiotics overall reduced chances of NEC by 50 percent, and premature death by 25 percent. In extremely low birth weight infants, meaning two pounds-three ounces or less, those that received probiotics tended to be less likely to develop NEC and had better chances of survival. Doctors continue to discuss the most effective strains and appropriate doses of probiotics in preventing NEC in preterm infants.



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