Probiotics for the prevention of necrotising enterocolitis in very low-birth-weight infants: a meta-analysis and systematic review

Acta Paediatr. 2017 Nov;106(11):1729-1741. doi: 10.1111/apa.13902. Epub 2017 Jun 9.


We performed an updated meta-analysis incorporating the results of recent randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to measure the effectiveness of probiotic supplementation in preventing necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) and death in very low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants, and to investigate any differences in efficacy by probiotic agent. Using meta-regression analysis, we assessed the contribution of other measured variables on the overall effect size and between-study variability.

Conclusion: Overall, probiotics lead to significant reductions in NEC incidence and mortality in VLBW infants. Differences in probiotic agents and the influence of prenatal steroids and feeding regimens may explain the differences in outcomes between studies.

Keywords: Necrotising enterocolitis; Nutrition; Probiotics; Very low-birth-weight infant.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / mortality
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*