Probiotic supplements work wonders in extremely preterm infants
Dr. Marie-Claire Arrieta, an assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) and co-investigator on the study.
“The findings suggest that a daily probiotic supplement containing the right microbiota promotes the rapid transformation of the gut microbiome into the microbiome normally observed in neonates. Healthy, breastfed babies are born at this time.
Mature microbiota is more stable, more resilient, and associated with reduced inflammation in the infant’s gut
The randomized clinical trial, conducted in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Foothills Medical Center, included infants born less than 29 weeks’ gestation and weighing less than one kilogram at birth. .
Although probiotics are often recommended for moderately preterm infants to prevent severe GI inflammation and sepsis, there is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of probiotics in extremely preterm infants. even when this group is most at risk for these conditions.
Since the gut microbiome contributes to these diseases, the researchers wanted to know if probiotic supplementation would affect the development of the gut microbiome.
A fully developed gut microbiota is essential for the body’s immune defenses.
Jumana Samara, MD, a neonatologist at FMC and the first author of this study.
“We found that the bifidobacteria strains in probiotic supplements act as ecosystem engineers, promoting microbiome growth, species connectivity and ecosystem stability. microorganisms. It also reduces intestinal inflammation.”
When babies are born very preterm, they are exposed to many factors that influence the development of the microbiome, such as the near universal introduction of life-saving antibiotics, which are known to alter microbiota. Their immature microbiome looks very different from that of full-term infants, with very few species of bifidobacteria, which are essential for a healthy infant microbiome. .
Their immature gut microbiota are also full of potential pathogens that can cause life-threatening infections.
“Due to their immature digestive and immune systems, premature babies face special challenges with breastfeeding,” says Dr. Belal. Alshaikh, MD, a neonatologist at Foothills Medical Center and co-investigator.
“Several strains of probiotics were found in the gut six months after stopping probiotics and may have contributed to the reduced rates of post-discharge food allergies.”
While research shows that probiotics can improve the digestive and immune system health of premature babies, Alshaikh says more research is still needed to determine the best mix of probiotics and confirm the safety of preterm infants. commercially available products. He adds, parents should check with their healthcare provider before using probiotics on babies.
Many of the infants in this study were part of a larger study of premature infants led by Arrieta and her team: the Alberta BLOOM study. This study tracked the health and microbiome of premature infants throughout their childhood. The researchers’ next goal is to understand how early intervention in this microbiome can affect the health of infants as they grow.
The results are published in Host Cells & Bacteria.