Probiotics receive a lot of attention these days as we have begun to better understand the role of the microbiome within our digestive tract. Besides the benefits promoted in the functional medicine world, the world of the neonatal intensive care unit also finds probiotics beneficial to their patients. As science has advanced its ability to care for babies born earlier and earlier in their gestational age, the doctors caring for these babies find the early battles of survival challenging. One of those challenges lies in necrotizing enterocolitis which kills many premature babies. A particular probiotic shows promise for decreasing the deaths and the aftereffects of this infection.
Those babies born prematurely, so early that they may weigh less than a kilogram, end up with a high rate of necrotizing enterocolitis. This infection occurs in their intestines partly due to imbalances in their gut microbiome and partly due to the immaturity of their immune systems. If they survive this infection with the help of antibiotics and life support, they often suffer long term GI dysfunction and often neurologic deficits.
Researchers from Crown Princess Victoria Children´s Hospital and the Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences (BKV) at Linköping University reported that a bacteria named Lactobacillus reuteri given to the earliest premature infants lowered the rate of bacteria associated with this infection. Rather than demonstrating high levels of staphylococcus and klebsiella bacteria which lead to the infection, their stool samples had healthier bacteria.
The researchers plan further studies to determine if this change in bacterial balance will lead to lower rates of infection. At least this showed safety and a potential mechanism by which the probiotic could help. Other studies had demonstrated similar safety and benefit in babies less premature. This demonstrates another amazing benefit of probiotics in helping all ages of patients live healthier more abundant lives. We have good reasons for emphasizing gut health and microbiome health in all our patients at Sanctuary.
Magalí Martí, Johanne E. Spreckels, Purnika Damindi Ranasinghe, Erik Wejryd, Giovanna Marchini, Eva Sverremark-Ekström, Maria C. Jenmalm, Thomas Abrahamsson. Effects of Lactobacillus reuteri supplementation on the gut microbiota in extremely preterm infants in a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Cell Reports Medicine, 2021; 100206 DOI: 10.1016/j.xcrm.2021.100206
Thanks to Science Daily:
Linköping University. “Probiotics increase gut bacteria diversity in extremely preterm infants.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210311123440.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.