While the use of probiotics is most widely heard of in older children and adults, studies have shown that giving probiotics to premature infants can help prevent necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
NEC is a serious health condition that occurs in 7 to 14 percent of premature infants (weighing between 500 to 1500 grams).
The condition causes tissue death in portions of the bowel, and is the second most common cause of death in premature infants.
Cone Health Women’s Hospital’s neonatology department began a study in 2009, treating premature infants (weighing 500-1500 grams) with probiotics within the first three days of their birth, and continuing to give them daily doses throughout their entire hospital stay.
The results have been overwhelmingly encouraging.
Since the study began, the incidence of NEC in premature infants born at Women’s Hospital has decreased from 15 percent to 2 percent.
Cone Health is one of the first healthcare institutions in the world to begin researching and using probiotics to prevent NEC in extremely low birth weight premature infants.
Women’s Hospital’s neonatology medical team actually presented their data and findings at the 4th World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition in November of 2012.
Dr. Mary Ann Dimaguila is the medical director of the Neonatal Nutrition Department at Cone Health Women’s Hospital and the vice president of Piedmont Neonatology.
Dr. Dimaguila earned her Doctor of Medicine from the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines in 1985.
She completed a pediatric residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in 1993 and a perinatal/neonatal fellowship at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital of Case Western Reserve University in 1996.