Newborns and Unhealthy Hearts Profit from Probiotics

Newborn infant
Early exposure to beneficial bacteria helps babies thrive.
This week on BBS! Poo transplantation cures Clostridium difficile infections, low birth weight babies do better with Bifidobacteria, and rat studies demonstrate the heart saving potential of probiotics.

Fecal Microbiota Transfers for Infectious Diarrhea

Clostridium difficile is a bacterial pathogen that causes diarrhea, and patients often become infected during hospital stays. Increased antibiotic resistance of C. difficile is a mounting problem; therefore, other treatments, like fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), are being considered. FMT consists of replacing a patient’s intestinal flora with bacteria obtained from healthy donor feces. To obtain a better overview of FMT’s success in C. difficile treatment, Prof. C.H. Lee of McMaster University in Canada reviewed 96 case records of C. difficile patients administered FMT via a retention enema. She found that the resolution rate was 86% for patients receiving four or more FMTs; however, this increased to 92% when FMT was combined with an alternating antibiotic therapy.

Babies Profit from Early Bifidobacteria Exposure

It is known that probiotics can have beneficial effects on growth rates. To determine if Bifidobacterium bifidium OLB6378 could help accelerate growth in very low birth weight (VLBW) babies, Dr. Satsuki Totsu of Tokyo Women’s Medical University in Japan performed a study on 283 VLBW babies. The babies were exposed to a placebo or bacteria within 48 hours of birth. Bacteria had a beneficial effect and improved two main parameters: 1) the ability of the babies to accept enteral nutrition and 2) their resistance against systemic infections.

Heart-Smart Probiotics

Because probiotics have such varied and widespread health benefits, Xiaohong Tracey Gan and colleagues from the University of Western Ontario performed a study in rats to see if Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 could be helpful in a model of heart failure. While the bacteria were unable to colonize the rat’s intestines, they still produced a number of benefits. Administration of probiotics improved heart function both clinically and also at a gene expression level.