Oropharyngeal colostrum therapy reduces the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in very low birth weight infants: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Pediatr Res. 2021 Jan;89(1):54-62. doi: 10.1038/s41390-020-0854-1. Epub 2020 Mar 30.


Background: Oropharyngeal colostrum (OC) is a novel feeding strategy to prevent complications of prematurity. A meta-analysis was conducted to investigate whether very low birth weight infants (VLBWs) can benefit from OC.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were searched from Embase, PubMed, Web of Science, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from the date of inception until May 2019. RCTs were eligible if they used OC therapy on VLBW infants. The primary outcomes included ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), late-onset sepsis, and death. The secondary outcomes included the time of full enteral feeding and the length of stay.

Results: Eight RCTs involving 682 patients (OC group: 332; non-OC group: 350) were included in the meta-analysis. The results suggested that OC was associated with a significantly reduced incidence of VAP [odds ratio (OR) = 0.39, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.17-0.88, P = 0.02] and full enteral feeding days (mean difference = -2.66, 95% CI: -4.51 to -0.80, P = 0.005), a potential significance of NEC (OR = 0.51, 95% CI: 0.26-0.99, P = 0.05), a trend toward downregulating mortality (OR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.34-1.08, P = 0.09) and proven sepsis (OR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.40-1.01, P = 0.06).

Conclusions: OC could significantly reduce the occurrence of VAP, and consequently, its routine use should be considered for VLBWs to prevent infectious diseases.

Impact: OC significantly reduces the occurrence of VAP and NEC in VLBW infants. OC may reduce the incidence of VAP and NEC by increasing IgA levels. Early OC therapy for mechanical ventilation of low-weight infants may prevent the occurrence of VAP.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight*
  • Colostrum*
  • Enteral Nutrition* / adverse effects
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / diagnosis
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Oropharynx
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated / prevention & control*
  • Premature Birth*
  • Protective Factors
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome