Objective: We evaluated the efficacy of probiotics in reducing the incidence and severity of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants.
Patients and methods: A prospective, masked, randomized control trial was conducted to evaluate the beneficial effects of probiotics in reducing the incidence and severity of NEC among VLBW (<1500 g) infants. VLBW infants who started to fed enterally and survived beyond the seventh day after birth were eligible for the trial. They were randomized into 2 groups after parental informed consents were obtained. The infants in the study group were fed with Infloran (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium infantis) with breast milk twice daily until discharged. Infants in the control group were fed with breast milk alone. The clinicians caring for the infants were blinded to the group assignment. The primary outcome was death or NEC (>or= stage 2).
Results: Three hundred sixty-seven infants were enrolled: 180 in the study group and 187 in the control group. The demographic and clinical variables were similar in both groups. The incidence of death or NEC (>or= stage 2) was significantly lower in the study group (9 of 180 vs 24 of 187). The incidence of NEC (>or= stage 2) was also significantly lower in the study when compared with the control group (2 of 180 vs 10 of 187). There were 6 cases of severe NEC (Bell stage 3) in the control group and none in the study group. None of the positive blood culture grew Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium species.
Conclusion: Infloran as probiotics fed enterally with breast milk reduces the incidence and severity of NEC in VLBW infants.