The Effects of Probiotics on Feeding Tolerance, Bowel Habits, and Gastrointestinal Motility in Preterm Newborns

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To investigate the effect of dietary supplementation with a probiotic on feeding tolerance and gastrointestinal motility in healthy formula-fed preterm infants.

Study design

Thirty preterm newborns were enrolled; 10 were exclusively breast-fed, and the remaining 20 were randomly assigned in a double-blind manner to receive eitherLactobacillus reuteriATCC 55730 (at dose of 1 × 108 colony forming units a day) or placebo for 30 days. Clinical symptoms of gastrointestinal function (regurgitation, vomiting, inconsolable crying, and evacuation) and physiological variables (gastric electrical activity and emptying) were recorded before and after the dietary intervention.


Body weight gains per day were similar for the 3 groups, and no adverse events were recorded. Newborns receiving probiotics showed a significant decrease in regurgitation and mean daily crying time and a larger number of stools compared with those given placebo. Gastric emptying rate was significantly increased, and fasting antral area was significantly reduced in both the newborns receivingL. reuteriand breast-fed newborns compared with placebo.


Our results suggest a useful role forL. reuterisupplementation in improving feeding tolerance and gut function in formula-fed preterm newborns.

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