Lactoferrin for prevention of neonatal infections

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2011 Jun;24(3):177-82. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e32834592e6.


Purpose of review: Sepsis-related morbidity and mortality is an increasing concern in all neonatal ICUs (NICUs). Sepsis occurs in 20-40% of all preterm patients, and although much is known on the origin, the incidence is reported to be constantly increasing. Many risk factors account for the increased risk of sepsis in preterms, including use of broad-spectrum antibiotics selecting resistant microflora and pathogenic gut colonization, parenteral nutrition, acid inhibitors and steroids, as well as the systematic and long-lasting use of invasive management and in-dwelling lines. As treatment does not prevent severe long-term neurodevelopmental impairment and sequelae in septic premature neonates, the best strategy is to avoid infections rather than to treat them.

Recent findings: Published results from several recent randomized controlled trials currently show a level I evidence that fluconazole for prevention of fungal sepsis, probiotics for prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis, and bovine lactoferrin for prevention of bacterial sepsis should be considered as preventive strategies in NICUs.

Summary: In this article, the current evidence in favour of lactoferrin use in preterm neonates will be reviewed and the areas of further research and future improvements will be discussed in order to illustrate the implications of the recent findings for clinical practice or research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Chemoprevention / methods*
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / prevention & control
  • Fluconazole / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactoferrin / administration & dosage*
  • Premature Birth
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sepsis / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Fluconazole
  • Lactoferrin