Probiotics in neonatology
Probiotics are micro-organisms that confer health benefits on the host. Postulated mechanisms include: increasing resistance of the mucosal barrier to migration of bacteria and their toxins by strengthening intestinal cell junctions, modification of host response to microbial products, augmentation of immunoglobulin A mucosal responses, enhancement of enteral nutrition to inhibit the growth of pathogens; production of antimicrobial proteins; and competitive exclusion of potential pathogens. Published meta-analyses and systematic reviews report the effects of probiotics on important clinical outcomes in neonates. This paper will review the evidence for probiotic supplementation in neonatology, with a focus on preterm infants.