Pediatrics

Human and Bovine Colostrum for Prevention of Necrotizing Enterocolitis: A Meta-analysis

CONTEXT:

Human and bovine colostrum (HBC) administration has been linked to beneficial effects on morbidity and mortality associated with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

OBJECTIVES:

To determine the effectiveness and safety of HBC for reducing NEC, mortality, sepsis, time to full-feed and feeding intolerance in preterm infants.

DATA SOURCES:

We conducted searches through Medline, Embase, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and gray literature.

STUDY SELECTION:

Randomized controlled trials comparing human or bovine colostrum to placebo.

DATA EXTRACTION:

Two reviewers independently did screening, review, and extraction.

RESULTS:

Eight studies (385 infants) proved eligible. In comparison with placebo, HBC revealed no effect on the incidence of severe NEC (relative risk [RR]: 0.99; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.48 to 2.02, I2 = 2.2%; moderate certainty of evidence), all-cause mortality (RR: 0.88; 95% CI 0.39 to 1.82, I2 = 0%; moderate certainty), culture-proven sepsis (RR: 0.78; 95% CI 0.53 to 1.14, I2 = 0%; moderate certainty), and feed intolerance (RR: 0.97; 95% CI 0.37 to 2.56, I2 = 55%; low certainty). HBC revealed a significant effect on reducing the mean days to reach full enteral feed (mean difference: –3.55; 95% CI 0.33 to 6.77, I2 = 41.1%; moderate certainty). The indirect comparison of bovine versus human colostrum revealed no difference in any outcome.

LIMITATIONS:

The number of patients was modest, whereas the number of NEC-related events was low.

CONCLUSIONS:

Bovine or human colostrum has no effect on severe NEC, mortality, culture-proven sepsis, feed intolerance, or length of stay. Additional research focused on the impact on enteral feeding may be needed to confirm the findings on this outcome.

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