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Premature Infants May Benefit from Probiotics

'Good bacteria' could help reduce risk of necrotizing enterocolitis

FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- The use of probiotics in premature infants may reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, according to study findings published in the May 12 issue of The Lancet.

Sanjay Patole, Dr.P.H., of the King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women in Western Australia, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of seven controlled trials comprising 1,393 preterm newborns with very low birth weight who were randomized to receive or not receive probiotic supplementation.

Supplementation with probiotics reduced the risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis by 64 percent, and reduced the mortality risk by 53 percent, compared to the control groups. Risk of sepsis was similar between the two groups.

"The usual measures for the prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis are feeding with breast milk and delaying preterm delivery," writes Carlo Caffarelli of the University of Parma, Italy, in an editorial. "The overview by [Patole] and colleagues is an important step towards an evidence-based use of probiotics. However, further large controlled trials are needed before recommending these promising agents."

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