Probiotics and necrotizing enterocolitis

Semin Pediatr Surg. 2018 Feb;27(1):39-46. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2017.11.008. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


In this review, we summarize existing knowledge regarding the effects of probiotics on necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). We review the role of the microbiome in NEC and pre-clinical data on mechanisms of probiotic action. Next, we summarize existing randomized controlled trials and observational studies of probiotics to prevent NEC. We also summarize findings from several recent meta-analyses and report a new cumulative meta-analysis of probiotic trials. Finally, we review data from cohorts routinely using commercially available probiotics. Our goal is to inform clinicians about the risks and benefits of probiotics, which may be helpful for those considering use in preterm infants to prevent NEC, death, or sepsis.

Keywords: Bacteria; Gut; Meta-analysis; Microbiome; Neonate; Preterm.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / microbiology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / prevention & control*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / microbiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome