More than 50 clinical trials on probiotics and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) have been published, prompting some medical organizations to provide guidance and recommendations on the use of probiotics with infants who are at increased risk of NEC.
As the NEC community considers the science and evidence around probiotics, it is critical to center the perspectives and experiences of NICU parents. NICU families consistently point to the need for high-quality and accessible information about the protective and risk factors that are associated with NEC. The NEC Society has issued a statement on this topic, “Probiotics & NEC: Family-Clinician Communication is Key”.
The NEC Society has been fortunate to work with the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) to develop a resource that will help to inform NICU parents about the potential benefits of probiotics for their premature infant. The infographic, Probiotics and Necrotizing Enterocolitis: What Parents Should Know, follows a recent ISAPP blog, Probiotics to Prevent Necrotizing Enterocolitis: Moving to Evidence-Based Use, by Dr. Ravi Mangal Patel MD, who serves on the NEC Society’s Scientific Advisory Council. Dr. Patel’s blog summarizes the science and benefits of probiotics for infants at risk of NEC.
ISAPP is a non-profit organization led by a scientific board of directors with input from an industry advisory committee. ISAPP is committed to advancing the science of probiotics and prebiotics through scientific integrity and transparency. ISAPP puts the science first, undertaking activities that contribute to the overall development of the field and the harmonization of scientific efforts.
The NEC Society is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to building a world without necrotizing enterocolitis through research, advocacy, and education. Jennifer Canvasser founded the NEC Society in 2014 after her son, Micah, died from complications of NEC just before his first birthday. Micah was born at 27-weeks gestation, placing him at increased risk of NEC. Despite Micah’s risk factors and his parents asking the care team to consider offering Micah probiotics, he was not treated with probiotics. While it is impossible to know if probiotics could have changed Micah’s course, his parents will always feel that more could have been done to better protect Micah from the devastation of NEC.
Parents are the most important member of their baby’s care team and it is vital for healthcare providers to support parents in understanding their child’s critical health information. For parents to effectively engage and contribute to the care team, they need to be supported in accessing and understanding important information related to their child’s health. This new resource on probiotics and NEC will help to ensure that NICU parents are informed and feel encouraged to ask questions so they can best advocate for their child.
The NEC Society and ISAPP are working to make this infographic available to NICU parents and healthcare providers. You are welcome to help us disseminate this resource to NICUs, parents, and providers.
To learn more about the NEC Society’s efforts: