Routine Supplementation ofLactobacillus rhamnosusGG and Risk of Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Very Low Birth Weight Infants

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To evaluate if routine supplementation of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG ATCC 53103 (LGG) is associated with a decreased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants.

Study design

Retrospective observational cohort study of VLBW (<1500 g) infants at a single center from 2008 to 2016. LGG supplementation with Culturelle at a dose of 2.5 to 5 × 109 CFU/day began in 2014. We used multivariable logistic regression to evaluate the association between LGG supplementation and necrotizing enterocolitis (modified Bell stage IIA or greater), after adjusting for potential confounders. We also compared changes in necrotizing enterocolitis incidence before and after implementation of LGG using a statistical process control chart.


We evaluated 640 VLBW infants with a median gestational age of 28.7 weeks (IQR 26.3–30.6); 78 (12%) developed necrotizing enterocolitis. The median age at first dose of LGG was 6 days (IQR 3–10), and duration of supplementation was 32 days (IQR 18–45). The incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis in the epoch before LGG implementation was 10.2% compared with 16.8% after implementation. In multivariable analysis, LGG supplementation was associated with a higher risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (aOR 2.10, 95 % CI 1.25–3.54, P = .005). We found no special cause variation in necrotizing enterocolitis after implementation of LGG supplementation. There were no episodes of Lactobacillus sepsis during 5558 infant days of LGG supplementation.


In this study, routine LGG supplementation was not associated with a decreased risk of necrotizing enterocolitis. Our findings do not support the use of the most common probiotic preparation currently supplemented to VLBW infants in the US.

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