Therapeutic use of prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis: what is the current evidence?

Clin Perinatol. 2013 Mar;40(1):11-25. doi: 10.1016/j.clp.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Jan 17.


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a leading cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality, and preventive therapies that are both effective and safe are urgently needed. Current evidence from therapeutic trials suggests that probiotics are effective in decreasing NEC in preterm infants, and probiotics are currently the most promising therapy for this devastating disease. However, concerns regarding safety and optimal dosing have limited the widespread adoption of routine clinical use of probiotics in preterm infants. This article summarizes the current evidence regarding the use of probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics in the preterm infant, including their therapeutic role in preventing NEC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / microbiology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Lactobacillus
  • Prebiotics*
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Probiotics / pharmacology


  • Prebiotics