AIM To investigate the colonisation withBifidobacterium breve of the bowels of very low birthweight (VLBW) infants.
METHODS The adverse effects of B breve were examined in 66 VLBW infants (preliminary study). A prospective randomised clinical study of 91 VLBW infants was also completed and these infants were followed up for three years. Precise viable bacterial counts of serial stool specimens were examined for the first eight weeks after birth in 10 infants. The colonisation rates of administered bacteria were examined using immunohistochemical staining of stool specimens with a B breve specific monoclonal antibody.
RESULTS In the preliminary study there were no side effects attributable to the bacteria. Immunohistochemical staining of stool specimens showed that the colonisation rates of the administered bacteria were 73% at 2 weeks of age, but only 12% in the control group. Early administration of B brevesignificantly decreased aspirated air volume from the stomach and improved weight gain.
CONCLUSIONS B breve can colonise the immature bowel very effectively and is associated with fewer abnormal abdominal signs and better weight gain in VLBW infants, probably as a result of stabilisation of their intestinal flora and accelerated feeding schedules.
- Bifidobacterium breve
- stool specimens
- necrotising enterocolitis
- very low birthweight.
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