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This article reviews the evidence for the use of different strains of probiotics in the prevention of prevalent pathologies in premature infants.
A systematic review was conducted of the use of probiotics in neonates with less than 37 weeks’ gestational age, based on a search for systematic reviews and observational and experimental studies performed during the period January 2014 to February 2021. For this purpose, the PubMed, MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases were consulted. The aim of this article was to review the existing data on the relationship between the administration of probiotics (with different strains and doses) and the risk of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), mortality, late sepsis and other disease parameters in premature infants.
The literature search obtained 240 articles, of which we selected 16, representing a total sample of over 200,000 premature infants. Analysis of the data obtained reveals statistical evidence that the combined administration of probiotics (especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains) reduces the incidence of grade II or higher NEC, all-cause mortality, late sepsis, length of hospital stay and time until complete enteral nutrition is achieved. However, no benefits were apparent with respect to alleviating bronchopulmonary dysplasia, retinopathy of prematurity or intraventricular haemorrhage.
Further research is needed to determine the most appropriate strains, doses and treatment time for preterm infants to achieve the health benefits identified.
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