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Bovine Lactoferrin May Help Prevent Sepsis in Preemies

Either alone or with a probiotic, it can reduce infection risk in very low birth weight infants

TUESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In very low birth weight infants, supplementation with bovine lactoferrin, either alone or in combination with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, may significantly reduce the risk of a first episode of late-onset sepsis, according to a study in the Oct. 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Paolo Manzoni, M.D., of Saint Anna Hospital in Torino, Italy, and colleagues randomly assigned 472 newborns to receive either bovine lactoferrin alone, bovine lactoferrin plus Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or placebo for 30 days. In neonates who weighed less than 1,000 grams at birth, the intervention continued for 45 days.

The researchers found that late-onset sepsis was significantly less common in the bovine lactoferrin alone and bovine lactoferrin plus Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG groups (5.9 and 4.6 percent, respectively) than in the placebo group (17.3 percent). Furthermore, they found no adverse effects or intolerances to the treatment.

"The results of the current study by Manzoni et al provide the opportunity to make further research on lactoferrin a priority," states the author an accompanying editorial. "For this vulnerable population of extremely preterm infants, it is important to move forward in a timely fashion to prevent nosocomial infections, infection-related mortality, and associated neurodevelopmental impairment."

The study was supported by Dicofarm SpA; one author reported a financial relationship with the company.

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