Purpose: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common acquired disease of the gastrointestinal tract in preterm infants, whereas probiotic supplementation might reduce NEC risk and potentially provide benefits to preterm infants. We performed an updated meta-analysis of all relevant randomized, controlled trials to assess the benefits of probiotic supplementation for preterm very low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants.
Methods: We searched in PubMed, Embase, and Chinese BioMedical Literature Database (CBM) databases, and 20 randomized, controlled trials (a total of 3816 preterm VLBW infants) were finally included into this meta-analysis. Incidence and relative risk (RR) were calculated using a random-effects or fixed-effects model depending on the heterogeneity of the included studies.
Results: Probiotic supplement was associated with a significantly decreased risk of NEC in preterm VLBW infants (RR = 0.33; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.24-0.46; P < .00001). Risk of death was also significantly reduced in the probiotic group (RR = 0.56; 95% CI, 0.43-0.73; P < .0001). There was no difference in the risk of sepsis between the probiotic group and placebo group (RR = 0.90; 95% CI, 0.71-1.15; P = .40).
Conclusions: Probiotic supplement can reduce risk of NEC and mortality in preterm VLBW infants. However, the optimum type of probiotic supplement and the long-term effects need further study.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.