Researchers Show Probiotics are a Promising Treatment for NEC

Aug 12, 2009 By Darci Slaten

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have determined that using probiotics, or healthy live bacteria, is an effective method to reduce and prevent a gastrointestinal disease that predominantly affects premature infants.

Research led by Bohuslav Dvorak, research professor of pediatrics, and anatomy at The University of Arizona's Steele Children's Research Center, has determined that using probiotics, or healthy live bacteria, is an effective method to reduce and prevent necrotizing enterocolitis, known as NEC.

NEC is a gastrointestinal disease that predominantly affects premature infants. Every year, approximately 10,000 are afflicted with NEC. The disease can be mild to severe with mortality rates around 40 percent.

In severe cases, a child's inflamed intestines may tear or perforate, allowing bacteria from intestines to leak into the abdomen, potentially causing a life-threatening systemic infection. The exact cause of NEC is unknown and there are no effective treatments for this disease.

Initial clinical studies suggest that supplementation of infant formula with probiotics is beneficial in the prevention of NEC. However, there are still considerable concerns among physicians about the safety of feeding live bacteria to prematurely born babies.

Using an experimental model of NEC, Dvorak and his team have recently shown that oral administration of probiotics is a promising strategy for prevention of NEC. "Our studies confirmed that the probiotic Bifidobacterium bifidum, when added to formula, significantly reduces the incidence and severity of NEC," said Dvorak. "We found that this particular strain of probiotics reduces inflammation in the intestines and reinforces the intestinal barrier."

"Now that we've determined the efficacy of Bifidobacterium bifidum, we are exploring the safety of probiotics, how probiotics protect against NEC at the cellular and molecular levels, and what long-term consequences - if any - they have on immune and gastrointestinal functions," he said.

Provided by University of Arizona (news : web)

Explore further: Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What else may probiotics do in adults?

May 20, 2008

Probiotic bacteria, defined as living microorganisms that have beneficial effects on human health, have mostly been studied in the prevention and treatment of different gastrointestinal diseases and allergies. Probiotic products, ...

New study suggests two causes for bowel disease in infants

Apr 27, 2009

New research from Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine is helping physicians unravel the cause of a deadly and mysterious bowel disease that strikes medically fragile newborn babies. ...

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

11 hours ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

15 hours ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.