September 2023

Probiotics: Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Data and Other Common Uses

The body of evidence on probiotics continues to expand. From species-specific research to a better understanding of which multi-strain combinations might benefit certain conditions most, we continue to update our monographs as data come out. Here’s the latest from our recently updated monograph.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea remains one of the most common reasons people use probiotics, and clinical research continues to show that it helps. A recent meta-analysis in older adults shows that taking probiotics within 48 hours of starting antibiotics reduces diarrhea in 29% of patients. This aligns with previous meta-analyses showing that it helps. Overall, Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosusLactobacillus acidophilus, and Saccharomyces boulardii species seem to offer the most benefit for this use.

There’s also more evidence supporting the use of probiotics for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A recent meta-analysis shows that Bacillus coagulans is the most beneficial species for overall symptom relief. And clinical research shows that taking Bacillus coagulans daily improves quality of life and reduces bloating and abdominal pain when compared with placebo.

In the hospital world, the use of probiotics in the neonatal intensive care unit for necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) continues to be a hot topic. Overall, the evidence remains unchanged. Giving multi-strain probiotic products to low-birth-weight infants seems to help prevent this serious intestinal disease from developing. Meta-analyses show that a combination of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria strains reduces the odds of NEC by up to 65% when compared with placebo. But additional research is needed to confirm which combinations, if any, might be most beneficial. The American Gastroenterological Association conditionally recommends probiotics for this use.

Check out our species-specific monographs for more details. And don’t forget we have an entire CE/CME course on the Microbiome Medley: Pre-, Pro-, and Postbiotics.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2024 NatMed. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. NatMed is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.