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Background/objective: The identification of probiotic species involved in gut homeostasis and their potential therapeutic benefits have led to an interest in their use for preventing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Although bifidobacterium and lactobacilli sp. have been used to reduce the incidence of NEC in clinical trials. Lactobacillus sporogenes has not been used in the prevention of NEC in very low-birth weight infants yet. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of orally administered L sporogenes in reducing the incidence and severity of NEC in very low-birth weight (VLBW) infants.

Subjects/methods: A prospective, blinded, randomized controlled trial was conducted in preterm infants with a gestational age of <33 weeks or birth weight of <1500 g. VLBW infants who survived to start enteral feeding were randomized into two groups The infants in the study group were given L. sporogenes with a dose of 350,000,000 c.f.u. added to breast milk or formula, once a day, starting with the first feed until discharged. The infants in the control group were fed without L. sporogenes supplementation. The primary outcome measurement was death or NEC (Bell's stage ≥2).

Results: A total of 221 infants were studied: 110 in the study group and 111 in the control group. There was no significant difference in the incidence of death or NEC between the groups. Feeding intolerance was significantly lower in the probiotics group than in the control group (44.5% (n: 49) vs 63.1% (n: 70), respectively; P=0.006).

Conclusions: L. sporogenes supplementation at the dose of 350,000,000 c.f.u/day is not effective in reducing the incidence of death or NEC in VLBW infants, however, it could improve the feeding tolerance.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Lactobacillus sporogenesIncidence of DeathNeutral
Lactobacillus sporogenesReduced Feeding IntoleranceBeneficial
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