World Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 492–497 | Cite as

The availability of probiotics and donor human milk is associated with improved survival in very preterm infants

  • Janet Sharpe
  • Mandy Way
  • Pieter J. Koorts
  • Mark W. DaviesEmail author
Original Article



To determine whether the introduction of pasteurized donor human milk and probiotics for infants born < 32 weeks gestational age or < 1500 g birthweight is associated with a reduction in mortality and the incidence of necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) and sepsis.


We performed a retrospective analysis of two cohorts: before and after the introduction of probiotics and pasteurised donor human milk. Univariate analysis of primary and secondary outcomes was performed; variables impacting outcomes were assessed using multivariate logistic regression.


There were 1791 infants: 1334 in the pre-donor milk/probiotic cohort and 457 in the post-donor milk/probiotic cohort. On univariate analysis, mortality (7.6 vs. 2.4%, P < 0.001) and incidence of sepsis (6.2 vs. 3.5%, P = 0.028) were statistically significantly lower in the post-donor milk/probiotic group. NEC (2.8 vs. 1.5%, P = 0.14) and non-NEC associated gastrointestinal perforation (1.6 vs. 0.4%, P = 0.052) were lower in the post-donor milk/probiotics cohort, but these were not statistically significant. The difference in mortality remained statistically significant on multivariate analysis in the post-donor milk/probiotic cohort compared to those in the pre-donor milk/probiotic cohort (odds ratio 0.31, 95% confidence interval 0.16–0.61). The decrease in the incidence of NEC was consistent with previous observational studies but the difference was not statistically significant.


The availability of probiotics and pasteurised donor human milk is associated with a reduction in mortality in very preterm infants.


Enterocolitis, necrotizing Infant, newborn Milk, human Milk banks Probiotics 



Many thanks to Dr. David Cartwright who extracted data from the neonatal database, and Dr. Peter O’Rourke for assistance with study design.

Author contributions

All authors contributed to design of the study. MW did the statistical analysis and all authors interpreted the findings. JS wrote the draft of the manuscript and the other authors revised it.


This research project did not receive any funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

Ethics approval was granted by the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee.

Conflict of interest

No financial or nonfinancial benefits have been received or will be received from any party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.


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Copyright information

© Children's Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Sharpe
    • 1
  • Mandy Way
    • 2
  • Pieter J. Koorts
    • 1
  • Mark W. Davies
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Grantley Stable Neonatal Unit, Department of NeonatologyRoyal Brisbane and Women’s HospitalBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Queensland Institute of Medical Research and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Statistical UnitBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics and Child HealthThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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