Late-onset infections are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in preterm infants. The purpose of our prospective randomised study was to establish whether a combination of probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Enterococcus faecium and Bifidobacterium infantum) affects the incidence of late-onset sepsis and other infections in very low birthweight infants (birthweight under 1500 g, gestational age under 33 weeks).
From 80 included infants, one half received probiotics (L. acidophilus, E. faecium and B. infantum) in the ratio 1.5:1:1.5, at a dose of 0.6 × 107 colony-forming units twice daily, given with the first portions of milk until discharge, whereas the other half did not.
In the group receiving probiotics, 16 children had late-onset sepsis compared with 29 in the group without probiotics; p = 0.006. The number of late-onset septic events was lower (30) in the group receiving probiotics than in the group that did not receive probiotics (69); p = 0.003. Furthermore, fewer children had at least one late-onset infection (20 infants in the group receiving probiotics compared with 32 in the group without them; p = 0.009). There were less episodes of late-onset infections in the group receiving probiotics (35) than in the group without probiotics (79); p = 0.002.
A combination of probiotics at a low dose (1.2 × 107 colony-forming units) decreased the frequency of late-onset sepsis and other infections, as described in previous studies. In addition, children were discharged at a lower postmenstrual age. There were no side effects of probiotics reported.