Nutrients improved infant health, birth outcomes

Synbiotics reduced sepsis 

Synbiotics combine probiotics and prebiotics to help promote a healthy gut microbiome. Sepsis is a bacterial infection that spreads to organs and tissues, with low-birth-weight and preterm infants particularly susceptible.

In this study, 4,500 infants from 149 villages in the Indian state of Odisha—where infant mortality rates are high, often due to sepsis infection— got daily synbiotics or a placebo beginning two to four days after birth.

After 60 days, infants who received the probiotic lactobacillus plantarum plus the prebiotic fructo-oligosaccharide inulin were 40 percent less likely to have developed sepsis compared to placebo. Because the results were so unexpectedly good, doctors stopped the trial and gave all the infants synbiotics. Synbiotics also reduced chances for lower respiratory tract infection requiring antibiotic treatment by 34.4 percent.

Vitamin D and preterm babies

Preterm babies are born with lower vitamin D stores. In the first of two studies, 121 preterm infants born between 24 and 32 weeks gestation got 400 IU, 800 IU, or 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day through what would have been their 36th week in the womb, the normal gestational age.


Before the supplement, 72 percent of the babies were deficient in vitamin D—below 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL). At 36 weeks, vitamin D levels had risen significantly in each of the vitamin D dose groups, to 29.4, 40 and 43 ng/mL, respectively.

In a second study, 1,064 pregnant women between the ages of 18 and 45 who later gave birth to a single child were offered free vitamin D supplements. Women who took vitamin D and achieved levels of 40 ng/mL were 62 percent less likely to have a preterm birth compared to women not taking vitamin D whose levels were below 20 ng/mL.

Reference: Nature; 2017, Vol. 548, No. 7668, 407-12
Natural Insights for Well Being December 2017

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