Background: Late-onset infections are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in preterm infants. The purpose of our prospective randomised study was to establish whether a combination of probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium and Bifidobacterium infantum) affects the incidence of late-onset sepsis and other infections in very low birthweight infants (birthweight under 1500 g, gestational age under 33 weeks).
Methods: From 80 included infants, one half received probiotics (L. acidophilus, E. faecium and B. infantum) in the ratio 1.5:1:1.5, at a dose of 0.6 × 107 colony-forming units twice daily, given with the first portions of milk until discharge, whereas the other half did not.
Results: In the group receiving probiotics, 16 children had late-onset sepsis compared with 29 in the group without probiotics; p = 0.006. The number of late-onset septic events was lower (30) in the group receiving probiotics than in the group that did not receive probiotics (69); p = 0.003. Furthermore, fewer children had at least one late-onset infection (20 infants in the group receiving probiotics compared with 32 in the group without them; p = 0.009). There were less episodes of late-onset infections in the group receiving probiotics (35) than in the group without probiotics (79); p = 0.002.
Conclusions: A combination of probiotics at a low dose (1.2 × 107 colony-forming units) decreased the frequency of late-onset sepsis and other infections, as described in previous studies. In addition, children were discharged at a lower postmenstrual age. There were no side effects of probiotics reported.
Keywords: Keywords; hospital infection; late-onset sepsis; preterm infant; probiotics.