This is a double blind, placebo-controlled pilot study investigating the effects of daily probiotic supplementation on feeding tolerance and gastrointestinal motility in healthy, formula-fed preterm infants.

Thirty infants with a mean gestational age of 34 weeks and mean birth weight of 1,890 gram were enrolled. Ten infants were exclusively breast-fed, and 20 were randomly assigned to receive either 1×10^8 CFU (Colony Forming Units) of Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730/day or placebo for 30 days, and a standard infant formula.

In each patient the gastric emptying rate was expressed as percent reduction in antral cross sectional area from time 0 to 120 minutes after the meal ingestion.

Fig. 1 In each patient the gastric emptying rate was expressed as percent reduction in antral cross sectional area from time 0 to 120 minutes after the meal ingestion.

Daily Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation to preterm formula-fed newborns improved tolerance to the formula. This was shown as a significant decrease in regurgitations and mean daily crying time, and an increased number of stools compared to those given placebo. Gastric emptying was also improved.At the end of the study period gastric emptying rate was significantly improved in formula-fed infants receiving Lactobacillus reuteri compared to the placebo group (P<0.001), as measured by ultrasonography.

Daily regurgitations were reduced to 2.1 vs. 4.2 (P<0.01) and daily bowel evacuations were increased to 3.7 vs. 2.1 (P<0.05), respectively. Daily crying time was significantly decreased to 32 minutes in the Lactobacillus reuteri group vs. 88 minutes/day in the placebo group (P<0.01). The breast-fed infants’ mean daily crying time was 66 minutes. Weight gain per day was similar in the three groups and there were no adverse events.

Conclusion: Daily Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation to preterm formula-fed newborns improved tolerance to the formula. This was shown as a significant decrease in regurgitations and mean daily crying time, and an increased number of stools compared to those given placebo. Gastric emptying was also improved.

 

Reference

Indrio F, Riezzo G, Raimondi F, Bisceglia M, Cavallo L, Francavilla R. The effects of probiotics on feeding tolerance, bowel habits, and gastrointestinal motility in preterm newborns. J Pediatrics 2008;152:801-806.

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