Use of probiotic supplements may help reduce deaths and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm neonates, according to the results of study to be published in the May issue of Pediatrics. "Systematic reviews of randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) indicate lower mortality and ...NEC and shorter time to full feeds after probiotic supplementation in preterm (<34 weeks' gestation) very low birth weight (VLBW; birth weight <1500 g) neonates," write researchers.
Although the risk for NEC and death was significantly lower with use of probiotics, the risk for sepsis was not significantly different. The incidence of NEC was 30% lower with probiotics, based on trial sequential analysis. No significant adverse effects of probiotic use were reported. "The results confirm the significant benefits of probiotic supplements in reducing death and disease in preterm neonates," the study authors write. "The dramatic effect sizes, tight confidence intervals, extremely low P values, and overall evidence indicate that additional placebo-controlled trials are unnecessary if a suitable probiotic product is available."