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Study to investigate probiotics for preterm babies

Researchers are to investigate whether premature babies should be given probiotic liquids to lower their risk of bacterial infection.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in the human digestive tract that have been shown to improve the general health of the gut and intestine.

Evidence suggests that probiotics may reduce the likelihood of premature babies developing necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), a life threatening intestinal complication of prematurity.

Experts from the University of London will assess the effects of probiotics in 1,300 preterm babies.

Researcher Kate Costeloe said: "At birth, babies who are nursed with their mothers quickly become colonised with their 'friendly' bacteria.

"Preterm babies who are separated from their mother at birth, are more likely to become colonised with bacteria in the environment of the neonatal care unit, and these may cause infection.

"Our research aims to find out whether probiotics can help improve the general health of premature babies and reduce their chances of having infections and other serious complications."

University of London