A Brazilian study could possibly have discovered a way to prevent a particular gastrointestinal disease in premature babies, particularly necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
NEC occurs once in 2,000 to 4,000 births, causing infection and swelling of the intestines or incomplete development of the intestine. Despite affecting 1 to 5% of births, it is relatively one of the most common and serious gastrointestinal diseases among premature babies.
The study involved pairing babies who received probiotics versus babies who did not. The said probiotics Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus case were added to the breastmilk of half of the infants studied. Among these babies who received probiotics, none developed NEC, while among those who received just plain breast milk, four developed NEC.
Despite this discovery, the researchers are not in any hurry to declare probiotics as a health standard for premature infants. “At this juncture, much more needs to be learned about probiotics before considering routine use in either pregnant women or preterm infants,” they said.