Multi-strain probiotics for extremely preterm infants: a randomized controlled trial


BACKGROUND: Effects of probiotics on intestinal microbiota and feeding tolerance remain unclear in extremely low-birth-weight (ELBW) infants.

METHODS: ELBW infants were randomly assigned to receive probiotics or no intervention. Stool samples were collected prior to, 2 and 4 weeks after initiation, and 2 weeks after probiotics cessation for infants in the probiotics group, and at matched postnatal age time points for infants in the control group.

** RESULTS**: Of the 102 infants assessed for eligibility, sixty-two were included. Infants who received probiotics reached full enteral feeds sooner (Mean difference (MD) −1.8; 95% CI:−3.7 to −0.01 day), had a tendency toward lower incidence of hematochezia before hospital discharge (22.6% vs 3.2%; P = 0.053), and were less likely to require extensively hydrolyzed- or amino acids-based formulas to alleviate signs of cow’s milk protein intolerance in the first 6 months of life (19.4% vs 51.6%; P = 0.008). Infants on probiotics were more likely to receive wide-spectrum antibiotics (64.5% vs 32.2%; P = 0.01). Multi-strain probiotics resulted in significant increase in fecal Bifidobacterium (P < 0.001) and Lactobacillus (P = 0.005), and marked reduction in fecal candida abundance (P = 0.04).

CONCLUSION: Probiotics sustained intestinal Bifidobacterium and reduced time to achieve full enteral feeds in extremely preterm infants. Probiotics might improve tolerance for cow’s milk protein supplements. CLINICAL TRIAL

REGISTRATION: This trial has been registered at (identifier NCT03422562).

Extended investigation of microbiome response to probiotic can be found here.

Pediatric Research
Belal Alshaikh
Clinical Associate Professor
Shirin Moossavi
Shirin Moossavi
Postdoctoral Fellow
Marie-Claire Arrieta
Assistant Professor