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Randomised controlled trial
Probiotics reduce the risk of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants
  1. Nicholas Embleton,
  2. Janet E Berrington
  1. Newcastle Neonatal Service, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Nicholas D Embleton
    Newcastle Neonatal Service, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Richardson Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK; nicholas.embleton{at}

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Commentary on: Fernández-Carrocera LA, Solis-Herrera A, Cabanillas-Ayón M, et al. Double-blind, randomised clinical assay to evaluate the efficacy of probiotics in preterm newborns weighing less than 1500 g in the prevention of necrotising enterocolitis. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2013;98:F5–9.


Survival rates for preterm infants have increased dramatically over the last two decades, but necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) remains a major problem. Around 30–50% of NEC-affected infants require surgery, approximately 30% may die, and survivors have increased risks of adverse neurodevelopmental sequelae. NEC has a multifactorial aetiology, and may represent the end stage of a variety of pathological processes, but in many cases appears strongly associated with patterns of gut microbial colonisation.1 Probiotics are the live bacteria that confer a health benefit; most are from the genus Lactobacilli or Bifidobacterium. Several recent meta-analyses have suggested probiotics reduce the risk of NEC and NEC-related death, but there …

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