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Meta-analysis confirms the positive effect of L. fermentum on gastrointestinal infections in infants

Summarised by Sandra Rühle, M.Sc. in nutritional science

Limosilactobacillus fermentum CECT5716 is a probiotic strain that occurs naturally in human milk. In addition to its safety, it is believed to have functional, anti-infectious, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal ingredient in formula. This prompted the team around Pastor-Villaescusa to conduct a systematic literature review and meta-analysis on the effect of the strain.

For an evidence-based evaluation of this effect, they conducted a systematic literature search until mid-June 2021. They found three RCTs (randomised controlled trials) that were considered relevant. These trials looked at a total of 512 infants, 435 of whom were also included in follow-up analyses. The study populations of all RCTs consisted exclusively of formula-fed infants between one and six months of age.

Results: Infants receiving a formula fortified with L. fermentum CECT5716 had a significantly lower incidence rate of gastrointestinal infections (IRR: 0.52 and 95% CI: 0.36–0.74) as compared to those receiving the placebo. Heterogeneity between the studies was moderate (I2 = 54.5%).

The most significant difference was a reduced incidence rate of diarrhoea of 71% compared to the control group (p = 0.018). Moreover, due to the absence of a high risk of bias, the authors conclude that the data is highly reliable. The administration of GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) along with this probiotic in two of the RCTs may explain a synergistic effect that enhanced the beneficial effect of L. fermentum.

Conclusion: This meta-analysis and the reported data is promising and shows that early administration of L. fermentum CECT5716 may be an effective preventative therapy for gastrointestinal infections. Besides, the addition of L. fermentum to formulae has been shown to be well tolerated and without adverse effects.

[1] Pastor-Villaescusa, B.; Blanco-Rojo, R.; Olivares, M. Evaluation of the Effect of Limosilactobacillus fermentum CECT5716 on Gastrointestinal Infections in Infants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Microorganisms 2021, 9, 1412.

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