Credit: © uduhunt / Fotolia

Credit: © uduhunt / Fotolia

Probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants

Probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants, according to the latest groundbreaking research from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The researchers found that a special mixture of beneficial bacteria reduced incidences of sepsis in infants in India by 40 percent. The cost to treat each infant was only $1 each.

Pinaki Panigrahi, M.D., Ph.D., professor, epidemiology and pediatrics, Center for Global Health and Development and his colleagues developed the probiotic mixture, which is a probiotic called Lactobacillus plantarum ATCC-202195 combined with fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS).

Probiotics are microorganisms, often called ‘good bacteria.’ They are found in various fresh and fermented foods and you can also take as supplements. Probiotics are essential for the immune system and for the digestive tract.

In developing countries, about 40 percent of sepsis patients do not survive. The cost for treating sepsis in the U.S. is almost $24 billion each year.

This is the largest clinical trial of probiotics in newborns funded by the National Institutes of Health,” Dr. Panigrahi said. The team enrolled over 4,500 newborns from India.

The study press release explained the following methods and results:

During their first days of life, the newborns were administered the oral preparation for seven days.

Results of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that sepsis and deaths in the first two months of infancy were reduced by 40 percent, more than twice the anticipated reduction of 20 percent. The synbiotic treatment also lowered respiratory tract infections.

The probiotic mixture was so successful that the researchers ended the study early.

The probiotic formula could be a “very cheap oral sepsis vaccine,” Dr. Panigrahi said.

We were concerned when the data safety and monitoring board stopped the study prematurely. We had enrolled just about half of our proposed subjects. Typically, a study is stopped when something is wrong.

But, it was a moment of superlative thrill when we learned it was stopped due to early efficacy. We were surprised a second time when the complete data analysis showed that respiratory tract infections also were reduced – something we did not anticipate in our population,” Dr. Panigrahi said.

MedlinePlus explains more about sepsis:

Sepsis is a serious illness. It happens when your body has an overwhelming immune response to a bacterial infection. The chemicals released into the blood to fight the infection trigger widespread inflammation. This leads to blood clots and leaky blood vessels. They cause poor blood flow, which deprives your body’s organs of nutrients and oxygen. In severe cases, one or more organs fail. In the worst cases, blood pressure drops and the heart weakens, leading to septic shock.

The study showing that probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants was published in the journal Nature.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only. 

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1. “Study Shows Probiotics Can Prevent Sepsis in Infants.” Newswise , University of Nebraska Medical Center , 16 Aug. 2017,

2. “A Randomized Synbiotic Trial to Prevent Sepsis among Infants in Rural India.”, Nature, 24 Aug. 2017,
3. “Sepsis: MedlinePlus.” MedlinePlus,. National Library of Medicine,

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