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Current use of probiotics to prevent necrotising enterocolitis
  1. Samuel David Duffield1,
  2. Paul Clarke1,2
  1. 1 Neonatal Unit, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Norwich, UK
  2. 2 Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  1. Correspondence to Prof. Paul Clarke, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Norwich, NR4 7UY, UK; paul.clarke{at}

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Each year in England ~230 babies born at <32 weeks’ gestation develop severe necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), with approximately half of them dying.1 Successive meta-analyses indicate that dual-strain probiotics—specifically the combination of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species—significantly reduce the incidence of NEC in very low birthweight infants (VLBWI; <1500 g) and halve mortality.2–4 A 2014 national UK survey,4 done prior to the publication of the Probiotics in Preterm babies Study (PiPS) trial,5 showed that only 12% (7 of 58) of the UK tertiary neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) were using probiotics, while more than half were awaiting the PiPS results. We aimed to determine if the prevalence of probiotic use has changed since the publication of the PiPS study in 2015.

During June–July 2018, we telephone-surveyed all 58 UK tertiary-level NICUs. We asked a senior member of the medical team (registrar/advanced neonatal …

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  • Contributors PC devised the study. SDD collected all the data. SDD and PC together drafted the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.