Microbial colonization of the infant’s gut begins during pregnancy and continues rapidly after birth until 2 to 3 years of age. This initial colonization is extremely important, because the types of organisms with which the gut is colonized can have a profound effect on overall health and disease prevention. Sparked by ongoing research in this arena, as well as real-word experience, the role of prebiotics and probiotics in human nutrition in general, and for neonatal and infant nutrition in particular, is advancing into a new era of recognition and appreciation.
To relay the latest data on the role of the microbiome in neonatal health to practicing clinicians, this educational initiative provides an in-depth review of the pivotal role of gut microbiota in neonatal health and development. Evolving understandings of the pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis are explored, as are the implications for prevention and treatment. Rationale for the use of prebiotics and probiotics in the neonatal intensive care unit is provided, combining the latest research findings with practical experience. The activity will also describe key points from latest guidelines and recommendations from professional associations on the use of prebiotics and probiotics in neonatal and infant nutrition.