Objective: To systematically evaluate and update evidence on the efficacy and safety of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis CNCM I-3446 supplementation in preterm infants.
Materials and methods: The Cochrane Library and MEDLINE databases and major pediatric conference proceedings were searched in December 2008 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). The company that manufactures B lactis was contacted for unpublished data. The review was restricted to RCTs performed in preterm infants <37 weeks of gestation and/or with a birth weight <2500 g.
Results: Four RCTs involving 324 infants met the inclusion criteria. Compared with controls, B lactis supplementation has the potential to increase fecal bifidobacteria counts and to reduce Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium spp counts. It also can reduce stool pH and fecal calprotectin concentrations, increase fecal immunoglobulin A and short-chain fatty acid concentrations, and decrease intestinal permeability. Compared with controls, B lactis supplementation had no effect on the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis stage > or = 2 (3 RCTs, n = 293, risk ratio [RR] 0.53, 95% CI 0.16-1.83), risk of sepsis (2 RCTs, 397 cultures, RR 0.6, 95% CI 0.07-5.2), and use of antibiotics (2 RCTs, n = 255, RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.28-1.62). The power of these studies, however, does not allow for a definitive statement regarding a reduced risk of necrotizing enterocolitis. B lactis supplementation did have some effects on anthropometric parameters. No adverse events associated with B lactis supplementation were reported.
Conclusions: Evidence regarding the potential beneficial effects of B lactis supplementation in preterm infants is encouraging. Further studies to assess clinically relevant outcomes are needed.