Probiotic Bacteria Prevent Deadly Infection Sepsis in Newborns

Probiotic bacteria commonly found in Asian kitchens preparing fermented vegetables such as pickles and kimchi has been discovered to be capable of dramatically reducing the risk of sepsis, a worldwide top killer of newborns, in babies. Scientists in India and the U.S. have come up with a budget treatment that could save droves of newborns every year.

Early on, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health’s Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi had given a thought that probiotic bacteria might be the key because it worked well on necrotizing enterocolitis. However, the tricky part had been to find out the best strain to protect newborns against sepsis, until Dr. Panigrahi and his team determined Lactobacillus plantarum separated from a healthy Indian baby’s diaper.

Lone Side Effect Found More in Placebo Group than Probiotic Group

After feeding babies with probiotic microbes for a week, the risk of sepsis and death have dropped a 40.0% from a 9.0% to 5.4%. Dr. Panigrahi has been surprised to see the gut bacteria also ward off respiratory infections by a nearly 30.0%. The treatment has been working so well that the scientists had to stop the study as directed by the safety board for trial. Although they had planned to enroll 8,000 babies, the enrollment has stopped at only half the number.

The only significant side effect that has been identified by the scientists is abdominal distension in six infants. However, more cases have been reported in the placebo group than the one with those who had received probiotics. According to Dr. Panigrahi, the probiotic could be manufactured in a simple setting and cost about a dollar per baby.