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Was your baby born prematurely?

- If so, their gut bacteria might be out of balance

Baby foot and probiotic supplement
4 Min read

When babies are born prematurely, the bacteria in their gut is more likely to be out of balance, which can affect their well-being.1, 2, 3 Some studies have shown that a special blend of three probiotic strains may help to improve this imbalance, supporting their immune health and digestive system.4, 5


Each year, approximately 2.4 million babies around the world are born at least 2 months before their due date.6 

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The balance of our gut bacteria can affect our health

5% of preterm babies develop a condition that negatively affects their intestine.8 This is because babies who are born prematurely are more likely to have an unbalanced gut microbiota, which can make them more vulnerable to infections that may impact their digestive system.3

Probiotics may help boost immune and digestive health 

Research shows that a special blend of probiotics may support the development of healthy immune and digestive systems in preterm babies.4, 5 This blend is a specific combination of the Bifidobacterium, BB-12®, Streptococcus thermophilus, TH-4® (hereafter referred to by use of the trademarks BB-12® and TH-4®) and Bifidobacterium infantis (DSM 33361) probiotic strains.

ESPGHAN refers to a special probiotic blend for preterm babies 

ESPGHAN is an international organization comprised of pediatric physicians, researchers and scientists. They refer to using the specially designed blend of BB-12®, TH-4® and B. infantis (DSM 33361) to support the health of preterm babies.9

Consult your doctor about probiotics for your baby 

If your baby is born prematurely, speak with your doctor about how probiotics may help to support their health. The blend of the three probiotic strains (BB-12®, TH-4® and B. infantis [DSM 33361]) may contribute to the balance of gut bacteria, supporting the health of your preterm baby. These probiotic strains are safe for your baby to take.

Read about how probiotics may support babies born by c-section and probiotics for excessive crying and fussing.

The many different types of bacteria in our gut are collectively termed the gut microbiota. How much we need of each type constantly changes throughout our lives.7 

Preterm baby and probiotic supplement

In partnership with Abbott Nutrition Health Institute, we have developed three podcast episodes in which we discuss probiotics and preterm infants. This podcast series covers topics such as Chr. Hansen-produced probiotics and their demonstrated mode of action. Click here to listen to the podcast series. 

BB-12® and TH-4® are registered trademarks of Chr. Hansen A/S.

The article is provided for informational purposes regarding probiotics and is not meant to suggest that any substance referenced in the article is intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease.

Bifidobacterium, BB-12® 

The probiotic strain Bifidobacterium, BB-12® is the world’s most documented probiotic bifidobacterium. It has been extensively studied and has been associated with improved outcomes across various health areas.

BB-12® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen A/S

BB-12 consumer logo TM

Reference list

1. Cotten CM, et al. Prolonged hospital stay for extremely premature infants: risk factors, center differences, and the impact of mortality on selecting a best-performing center. J Perinatol. 2005;25(10):650-5. (PubMed)

2. Alganabi M, et al. Recent advances in understanding necrotizing enterocolitis. F1000Res. 2019;8. (PubMed)

3. Unger S, et al. Gut microbiota of the very-low-birth-weight infant. Pediatr Res. 2015;77(1-2):205-13. (PubMed)

4. Jacobs SE, et al. Probiotic effects on late-onset sepsis in very preterm infants: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2013;132(6):1055-62. (PubMed)

5. Bin-Nun A, et al. Oral probiotics prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in very low birth weight neonates. J Pediatr. 2005;147(2):192-6. (PubMed

6. Chawanpaiboon S, et al. Global, regional, and national estimates of levels of preterm birth in 2014: a systematic review and modelling analysis. The Lancet Global Health. 2019;7(1):e37-e46. (PubMed)

7. Rodríguez JM, et al. The composition of the gut microbiota throughout life, with an emphasis on early life. Microb Ecol Health Dis. 2015;26:26050-. (PubMed)

8. Neu J, Walker WA. Necrotizing enterocolitis. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(3):255-64. (PubMed)

9. van den Akker CHP, et al. Probiotics and Preterm Infants: A Position Paper by the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition and the ESPGHAN Working Group for Probiotics and Prebiotics. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020;Publish Ahead of Print. (PubMed)

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