Nav: Home

Giving billions of live bacteria to boost the gut health of premature babies

November 07, 2019

Boosting the milk of premature babies with healthy bacteria may have helped half the number of serious gut problems and infections, according to new research led by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and involving the University of East Anglia.

Researchers at NNUH, Quadram Institute and UEA reviewed the outcomes of almost 1,000 very premature babies who were admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) over a 10-year period.

In January 2013, the NNUH became one of the first hospitals in the UK to introduce daily probiotics dosing for NICU babies on the back of growing evidence that adding live Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotic bacteria to milk reduces the number of cases of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a life-threatening gut condition in which the tissues of the intestine become inflamed and start to die, and mainly affects very preterm babies.

The research report, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, shows that since introducing routine probiotics on the neonatal unit at NNUH the numbers of cases of NEC among very preterm babies has dropped from 7.5 per cent to 3.1 per cent, and the number of sepsis cases fell from 22.6 per cent to 11.5 per cent.

Dr Paul Clarke, NNUH Consultant Neonatologist and Honorary Professor at UEA's Norwich Medical School, said that prevention of necrotising enterocolitis is a top UK research priority and there was strong evidence to support neonatal units giving premature babies probiotics on a routine basis.

He said: "Ours is the first UK study to evaluate the potential impact of routine probiotics use on NEC and sepsis rates. It has been a big team effort to boost the gut health of these tiny vulnerable babies at the beginning of their lives and help them get the right gut bacteria from the start.

"We are proud to have completed this important research, which suggests that our use of probiotics has saved lives by preventing many cases of NEC and sepsis.

"We're feeding more than one billion healthy live bacteria a day to each baby and it seems to have had the beneficial effect on reducing NEC that we had hoped for.

"Most NICU departments in the UK are still not routinely giving probiotics so we hope this research might encourage more hospitals to start giving early probiotics to protect babies."

Dr Lindsay Hall from the Quadram Institute is one of the co-authors of the research. She added: "This work highlights how modulating the preterm gut microbiota with beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium can result in real improvements in health outcomes in these fragile and at-risk babies. The next stage is to understand how this type of supplementation modulates the wider microbial community and the mechanisms behind these beneficial effects."

Archie Faulkner was born at NNUH in March 2016 at 24 weeks and 4 days, weighing 1lb 5oz. He was given routine probiotics during his time on NICU and is now a healthy three and a half year old.

His mum Samantha Howard, from Norwich, said: "It was a massive shock when Archie was born so early and we couldn't cuddle him for a couple of weeks because he was so small. It took some time to get used to the fact he was born so early, but we never thought he was not going to make it. The care he received was absolutely amazing and everyone was lovely. We did everything we could to get involved in most things on the ward."
-end-


University of East Anglia

Related Probiotics Articles:

Probiotics may help treat acne
Acne is caused by chronic inflammation and is often treated with antibiotics.
Probiotics and prebiotics work differently in girls and boys according to piglet study
Baby boy's and girl's immune systems respond differently to prebiotics and probiotics, according to new research.
Beware probiotics in ICU patients
A collaborative study published in Nature Medicine sounds a note of caution in using probiotics in the ICU.
Using probiotics to protect honey bees against fatal disease
A group of researchers at Western and Lawson combined their expertise in probiotics and bee biology to supplement honey bee food with probiotics, in the form a BioPatty, in their experimental apiaries.
Scientists revealed how probiotics influence human gut bacteria
A group of researchers from ITMO University and Knomics company studied how gut microbiota of 150 volunteers changed after a month of regular consumption of yogurt fortified with probiotics.
Breastmilk sugars differ in pregnant women on probiotics
The complex sugars found in human breastmilk, long believed to be fixed in their composition, may change in women who are taking probiotics, according to new research from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).
Probiotics could help millions of patients suffering from bipolar disorder
About 3 million people in the US are diagnosed every year with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition characterized by dramatic shifts in mood from depression to mania.
Probiotics no help to young kids with stomach virus
A major US study led by Washington University School of Medicine in St.
New study reveals probiotics do not help children with intestinal infections
Probiotics are a multibillion-dollar industry with marketing claims of being an effective treatment for a multitude of ailments, including diarrhea.
Probiotics increase bone volume in healthy mice
A widely used probiotic stimulates bone formation in young female mice, according to a study published Nov.
More Probiotics News and Probiotics Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.