Understanding the biologic therapies of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: Exploring current evidence for use in premature infants for the prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis

Mussie Asmerom, Lindsay Crowe, Terri Marin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Necrotizing enterocolitis remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in very low-birth-weight infants (<1500 g), with current preventive strategies unclear. Scientific evidence has recently emerged, suggesting that probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics may effectively and safely alter the premature intestinal microbiota, enhancing a deficient innate immune response and maturing the intestinal barrier to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis development. Currently, formal recommendations do not support routine use of these dietary supplementations for premature infants. Here, we examine how probiotic, prebiotic, and synbiotic preparations physiologically alter the underdeveloped intestinal microbial environment to potentially reduce necrotizing enterocolitis incidence and discuss current evidence that has examined safety and efficacy factors potentially supporting routine use among the premature infant population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-247
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Microbiome
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Prebiotic
  • Prematurity
  • Probiotic
  • Synbiotic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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