Neonatal Morbidities and Feeding Tolerance Outcomes in Very Preterm Infants, before and after Introduction of Probiotic Supplementation

Nutrients. 2022 Sep 3;14(17):3646. doi: 10.3390/nu14173646.


While probiotics are reported to reduce the risks of neonatal morbidities, less is known about probiotics and feeding tolerance. With this retrospective cohort study, we investigate whether introduction of probiotic supplementation as the standard of care was associated with fewer neonatal morbidities and improved feeding tolerance in very preterm infants. Using the Swedish Neonatal Quality Register, 345 live-born very preterm infants (28-31 weeks' gestation), from January 2019-August 2021, in NICUs in Stockholm, Sweden, either received probiotic supplementation (Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium lactis, Streptococcusthermophilus) (139) or no supplementation (206); they were compared regarding a primary composite outcome of death, sepsis, and/or necrotising enterocolitis and secondary outcomes: time to full enteral feeding and antibiotics use. Probiotics seemed associated with a reduced risk of the composite outcome (4.3% versus 9.2%, p = 0.08). In the subgroup of 320 infants without the primary outcome, probiotics were associated with shorter time to full enteral feeding (6.6 days versus 7.2 days) and less use of antibiotics (5.2 days versus 6.1 days). Our findings suggest that probiotics improve feeding tolerance and further support that very preterm infants may benefit from probiotic supplementation.

Keywords: antibiotic; feeding tolerance; full enteral feeding; necrotising enterocolitis; neonatal morbidities; probiotic supplementation; very preterm infants.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing* / epidemiology
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases*
  • Morbidity
  • Probiotics* / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents