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Klin Padiatr. 2010 Sep;222(5):284-90. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1254113. Epub 2010 Jul 19.

Probiotics for prevention of necrotising enterocolitis: an updated meta-analysis.

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Klinik für Neonatologie, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany.


Several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have investigated the prophylactic use of probiotics in preterm infants aimed at reducing the rate of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). There are 4 meta-analyses on this subject. 2 more RCTs have been published since these meta-analyses were completed. Each meta-analysis, as well as the 2 recent RCTs, document reduced rates of NEC and mortality with the use of prophylactic probiotics. We calculated meta-analyses based on 3 approaches: A - RCTs common to all meta-analyses, B - RCTs ever accounted for in a meta-analysis but not common to all, and C - the 2 recent RCTs. The 3 subgroups yield similar results, with an overall reduction in the relative risk (RR) of NEC (Bell > or =2) to 0.35 (95% CI 0.23-0.55) and of mortality to 0.41 (0.28-0.60). NEC rates and mortalities in the dominant RCTs are in the range reported from North American and European networks. Best results appear to be achieved with probiotics based on 2 or more probiotic species and/or with a combination of Bifidusbacterium spp. and Lactobacillus acidophilus. No unwanted side effects have been reported among 1 117 infants randomized to receive probiotics. We conclude that probiotics are safe and beneficial in preterm infants at risk for NEC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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