Probiotics a promising neuroprotective agent in VLBW infants
Bifidobacterium bifidum OLB6378 appears to have a favourable effect on the psychological development of very low birthweight (VLBW) infants, a study has reported.
Researchers randomly assigned infants with birthweight <1,500 g to groups given OLB6378 (n=153) or placebo (n=130). OLB6378 as a probiotic was initiated within 48 hours of birth and continued until the bodyweight reached 2,000 g.
Physical status and developmental quotient (DQ18) were assessed at 18 months of corrected age. DQ18 score distribution was categorized into four levels of development: <70, significant developmental delay; 70–84, moderate developmental delay; 85–99, without developmental delay; ≥100, average development or better.
Of the randomized infants, 102 in the OLB6378 group and 105 in the placebo group underwent the 18-month medical examination. The distribution of DQ18 scores revealed that development was significantly better in the group that received probiotics. The respective proportions of infants with DQ18 scores <70, 70–84, 85–99 and ≥100 were 12, 12, 25 and 40 in the OLB6378 group vs 15, 17, 23 and 24 in the placebo group (ordered logistic regression analysis, p=0.038).
Administering OLB6378 to maintain a beneficial intestinal microbiota may positively influence neurological development through the brain-gut interaction. This is supported by the current finding that such benefit is more pronounced in infants delivered by caesarean section, according to researchers.
Certain strains of intestinal bacteria have been implicated in the development of autism, and it is known that faecal levels of Bifidobacterium in children with autism are low. Taken together, these data indicate that intestinal microbiota can act on the nervous system, researchers said. [Anaerobe 2012;18:260-262; Appl Environ Microbiol 2011;77:6718-6721; BMC Gastroenterol 2011;11:22]