Probiotic Could Benefit Newborns With Very Low Birth Weight

May 17, 2023 by Dan McCue
Probiotic Could Benefit Newborns With Very Low Birth Weight

BOSTON — The use of enteral probiotics among infants with very low birth weight has been found to lower their risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, though it appears to have far less of an impact on either sepsis or mortality, according to a cohort study published in JAMA Health Forum.

The study lead, Leila Agha, Ph.D., of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, said that in utilizing a sample of 300,000 newborns, she and her research team observed an 18% reduction in necrotizing enterocolitis with the use of probiotics in neonatal intensive care units.

While that’s great news, the researchers also found that only 16.3% of neonatal intensive care units had begun this practice as of 2019.

Of those that did, about 76.3% of their newborns received probiotics.

Despite the positive results surrounding necrotizing enterocolitis, Agha and her colleagues warned that infants with very low birth weight are still at heightened risk for deaths, neurodevelopmental disabilities, repeated surgeries and long-term tube feeding.

For the purpose of the study, Agha and her colleagues used data from the Vermont Oxford Network, which is estimated to include data on more than 85% of infants born with very low birth weight.

About half the subjects were boys and gestational age was 28.4 weeks.

The research was funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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