Study results show probiotic supplements help form a mature microbiome in premature babies
The analysis provides a new understanding of the effect of probiotics on the smallest of infants in neonatal intensive care.
According to the results of a study published in Cell host and microbe.
Researchers found that a specific blend of 5 species of probiotic supplements accelerated the maturation of the microbiome into a term-like state and reduced intestinal inflammation in extremely premature infants.
“These are the smallest preemies who spend the first months of their lives in neonatal intensive care,” said Marie-Claire Arrieta, PhD, assistant professor at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, in a statement.
“The results show that a daily probiotic supplement containing the right kind of microbes caused a rapid transition of the gut microbiome to what is normally seen in healthy, breastfed full-term infants,” she said. “This mature microbiome is more stable, more resilient, and has been linked to reduced inflammation in the gut of babies.”
The randomized clinical trial was conducted in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Foothills Medical Centre. Investigators included infants born before 29 weeks gestation and weighing less than 1 kilogram at birth.
Probiotics are often recommended for moderately preterm infants to prevent severe gastrointestinal inflammation and sepsis, but there is insufficient evidence to support the use of probiotics in extremely preterm infants.
The researchers aimed to determine whether probiotic supplements affected the development of the gut microbiome, since a fully developed microbiome is essential for the body’s immune defense.
“The gut microbiome is a complex community containing different species of microorganisms that contribute to important aspects of the immune system, including fighting pathogens and preventing immune diseases, such as asthma and type 1 diabetes. “, Jumana Samara, MD, neonatologist at Foothills Medical Center, said in the statement.
“We found that the bifidobacterial strains in the probiotic supplement acted as an ecosystem engineer, supporting microbiome growth, cross-species connections, and microbiome stability. It also alleviated intestinal inflammation,” Samara said.
When a child is born prematurely, they experience factors that impact the development of the microbiome, including the introduction of a life-saving antibiotic that alters the microbiome.
The preterm infant’s microbiome is different from that of term infants, with a reduced number of bifidobacterial species, which are essential for a healthy infant microbiome. Investigators have also found that the immature gut microbiomes of premature infants contain high numbers of potential pathogens that can cause life-threatening infections.
Although this study shows that probiotics can improve the digestive and immune health of premature babies, more research is needed to identify the best mix of probiotics and confirm the safety of available commercial products, Belal Alshaikh, MD, neonatologist at Foothills Medical Center , said in the statement.
Parents should consult their doctor before administering probiotics to newborns, he added.
“Because of their immature digestive and immune systems, premature babies face unique feeding challenges. The probiotic blend in our study resulted in better food tolerance and reduced signs of allergic reaction in babies’ digestive systems,” Alshaikh said.
A UCalgary study finds that the probiotic supplement helps form a mature microbiome in extremely premature infants. Eurek alert. Press release. May 19, 2022. Accessed May 24, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/953395