Bubs fed bugs to treat bowel disease
Cutting-edge research by Girish Deshpande at Nepean Hospital has led the way to probiotic supplementation for premature babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Dr Deshpande, staff neonatologist and researcher, says probiotics can halve the risk of inflammatory bowel disease in premature babies, but the treatment is not common in Australia.
"Nepean Hospital is one of the first in Australia to offer probiotics as a standard therapy for premature babies," Dr Deshpande said.
Probiotics, friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, are found in yoghurt and cheese.
In March this year, the Department of Neonatal Intensive Care at Nepean Hospital conducted a workshop in Sydney to present developments in the field of probiotics.
But Dr Deshpande said that finding a probiotic product which was safe for use in premature babies was a challenge.
"After a year, Nepean Hospital's clinical pharmacist, Jing Xiao, found a product from overseas which is now offered to families for the treatment of their premature babies admitted to the NICU," Dr Deshpande said.
In Australia eight in 100 babies are born more than eight weeks premature and 6 per cent to 8 per cent of them develop necrotising enterocolitis (bowel disease).