IPA spoke with Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi, Director of the Center for Global Health & Development at University of Nebraska Medical Center about his research on synbiotics in infancy.
“The microbiota… has been very close to my heart for the last 20 plus years. I am excited because everyone is talking about microbiota now; years ago nobody did except for Eastern Europe and other older societies.”
With newer tools, Dr. Panigrahi tested a strain of lactobacillus in prevention of neonatal sepsis, a major cause of morbidity and mortality in infants across the globe. Sepsis in early infancy results in one million annual deaths worldwide, most of them in developing countries.
His research report appeared in Nature in August 2017: A randomized synbiotic trial to prevent sepsis among infants in rural India.
An oral synbiotic preparation (Lactobacillus plantarum plus fructooligosaccharide (FOS)) was tested with 4,556 infants in Odisha, India. The infants were at least 2,000 g at birth, at least 35 weeks of gestation, and with no signs of sepsis or other morbidity; they were monitored for 60 days.
- Significant reduction in the primary outcome (combination of sepsis and death) in the synbiotic group
- Significant reductions were for culture-positive and culture-negative sepsis and lower respiratory tract infections.
IPA then asked about “seeding” or slathering a mother’s microbes on the newborn immediately after cesarean section birth, a growing practice among some scientists and others.
“Is it a scientific thing to do? The answer is yes, if the mother and baby are healthy… if not, such as with a pre-term infant, then more research must be done. ..In general though, that’s OK.”
Other research from Dr. Pinaki Panigrahi:
Effects of oral Lactobacillus GG on enteric microflora in low-birth-weight neonates
Long-term colonization of a Lactobacillus plantarum synbiotic preparation in the neonatal gut
Probiotics and prebiotics to combat enteric infections and HIV in the developing world: a consensus report