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Background: Probiotics have strain specific effects and the effects of fungi in preventing diseases in preterm infants have been investigated poorly. Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast which acts both as a probiotic and a polyamine producer.

Aim: The objective of this study was to investigate the efficacy of S. boulardii in preventing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or sepsis in very low birth weight infants.

Study design and subjects: A prospective, double blind, placebo controlled trial was conducted in preterm infants (≤ 32 GWs, ≤ 1500 g birth weight). They were randomized either to receive feeding supplementation with S. boulardii 50 mg/kg every 12 h or placebo, starting with the first feed until discharged.

Outcome measures: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or sepsis and NEC or death.

Results: Birth weight and gestational age of the study (n = 104) and the control (n = 104) groups were 1126 ± 232 vs 1162 ± 216 g and 28.8 ± 2.2 vs 28.7 ± 2.1 weeks, respectively. Neither the incidence of stage ≥ 2 NEC or death nor stage ≥ 2 NEC or late onset culture proven sepsis was significantly lower in the study group when compared with the control group (9.6% vs 7.7%, p = 0.62; 28.8% vs 23%, p = 0.34). Time to reach 100 mL/kg/day of enteral feeding (11.9 ± 7 vs 12.6 ± 7 days, p = 0.37) was not different between the groups.

Conclusions: Saccharomyces boulardii did not decrease the incidence of NEC or sepsis.

Keywords: Necrotizing enterocolitis; Probiotics; Saccharomyces boulardii; Sepsis; Very low birth weight.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Saccharomyces boulardiiIncidence of Necrotizing EnterocolitisNeutral
Saccharomyces boulardiiTime to Full Enteral Feeding in Postnatal AgeNeutral

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