Probiotics in the prevention of bacterial and Candida infections in newborns

An open, prospective and randomised study that investigated the effects of daily oral probiotic supplementation on the incidence of bacterial and fungal infections, the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms, and time to tolerate enteral nutrition in surgical newborns attending a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

24 newborns with a gestational age of 36.4 ± 2.7 weeks, a birth weight of 2568.3 ± 644 g, and admitted in the NICU due to greater surgical interventions were included.

Group 1 (n=8) was supplemented with Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730, group 2 (n=8) was supplemented with Lactobacillus GG and group 3 (n=8) was not given probiotics. Both probiotics were administered from the time of admittance to the NICU.

The clinical parameters evaluated were: No. of bacterial and Candida infections, No. of days with antimycotic treatment, duration of parenteral nutrition, time to tolerance of enteral/oral food intake, weight increase, gastrointestinal symptoms, and duration of hospital stay.

Results: Significantly fewer infective episodes were observed in groups 1 and 2 compared with controls: 0%, 12%, and 37.5%, respectively, for bacterial infections and 12.5%, 25%, 37.5% for Candida infections. Group 3 needed antimycotic treatment for a significantly longer period of time: the medium duration of antimycotic treatment was 19 days in group 1, 29 days in group 2, and 41 days in group 3. The medium duration of parenteral nutrition was 18 days in group 1, 34 days in group 2, and 42 in group 3 (p<0.05).


Conclusion: Probiotic supplementation to this high-risk group of newborns can reduce the risk of bacterial and Candida sepsis, shorten the period of time with parenteral nutrition, reduce gastrointestinal symptoms and increase oral food tolerance, with significant reduction in hospital stay.



Betta P, Sciacca P, Trovato L, Vilardi L, Scuderi MG, Di Benedetto V, Oliveri S, Romeo MG. Probiotics in the prevention of bacterial and Candida infections in newborns submitted to greater surgical interventions and admitted in NICU--retrospective group controlled study. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2007;44:e127, abstract PG4-13.

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