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J Pediatr. 2005 Aug;147(2):192-6.

Oral probiotics prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight neonates.

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Department of Neonatology and Laboratories, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, the Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.



To test the hypothesis that normalizing the intestinal flora by administration of prophylactic probiotics would provide a natural defense, thereby reducing both the incidence and severity of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm neonates.


Neonates < or =1500 g birth weight were randomized to either receive a daily feeding supplementation with a probiotic mixture (Bifidobacteria infantis, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Bifidobacteria bifidus; Solgar, Israel) of 10(9) colony forming units (CFU)/day or to not receive feed supplements. NEC was graded according to Bell's criteria.


For 72 study and 73 control infants, respectively, birth weight (1152 +/- 262 g vs 1111 +/- 278 g), gestational age (30 +/- 3 weeks vs 29 +/- 4 weeks), and time to reach full feeds (14.6 +/- 8.7 days vs 17.5 +/- 13.6 days) were not different. The incidence of NEC was reduced in the study group (4% vs 16.4%; P=.03). NEC was less severe in the probiotic-supplemented infants (Bell's criteria 2.3 +/- 0.5 vs 1.3 +/- 0.5; P=.005). Three of 15 babies who developed NEC died, and all NEC-related deaths occurred in control infants.


Probiotic supplementation reduced both the incidence and severity of NEC in our premature neonatal population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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