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.
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.
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.