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Probiotics may help preterm infants

Press release   •   Nov 28, 2019 08:51 UTC

A new three-strain probiotic blend from Chr. Hansen can help support the health and development of intestines in preterm babies and has been shown to reduce risk of Necrotizing enterocolitis by 50%1

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an inflammatory disease and is the leading cause of mortality worldwide for preterm babies.2 Experts believe that an underdeveloped or damaged intestine is the main cause of NEC, instigated by complications including lack of blood or oxygen to the intestine, injury to the intestinal lining or bacterial growth on the intestinal wall.3

A new three-strain probiotic blend by Chr. Hansen has shown to help support the intestinal tract for healthy immune and digestive function. Now launched through customer partnerships in the US and in Europe, Chr. Hansen’s new product is already being used in some neonatal intensive care units, fed to babies through a feeding tube.

“Our purpose is strong, and we are truly excited to make a difference for this vulnerable group – preterm infants. The multi-strain probiotic has been tested in two high quality clinical trials for its efficacy and safety. Using our science and technology to make a positive difference in the world is what we are in business for, which is why we are so happy to bring this first-of-its-kind solution to preterm babies,” says Andrew Scorey, senior vice president for Human Health at Chr. Hansen.

NEC affects 5% of infants born two months early4

About 1-2% of all infants are born very preterm or extremely preterm – i.e. two months or earlier than due date – which is some 2.4 million babies globally every year.5 NEC affects approximately 5% of this group and results in a mortality rate of up to 30%.4,6

This new product contains a blend of three different probiotic strains: BB-12® Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis, TH-4® Streptococcus thermophilus and Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis. This blend has been shown to help reduce the risk of NEC by up to 50%, as documented in two clinical trials including a total of more than 1,200 preterm infants born two months or earlier than due date.1,7

“Preterm infants typically have an unbalanced intestinal microbiota making them vulnerable to infections and certain life-threatening diseases. This three-strain probiotic product with different strains and different species has been shown to provide functional advantages for the preterm population,” explains senior scientific advisor at Chr. Hansen, Ulla Holmboe Gondolf.

Strict production requirements ensure highest quality

Due to the high vulnerability of preterm infants to infections, Chr. Hansen has implemented the strictest of production processes.

“We always comply with the relevant production and quality standards for the production of all our products. In this case, we have added many more requirements on top of what is stipulated as standard to go the extra mile to ensure the highest quality, safe product for this vulnerable population,” adds Scorey.

Chr. Hansen’s extra requirements include extended contaminant testing and stricter requirements regarding both environmental monitoring and cleaning before production to eliminate the risk of contamination.

Finally, the product is packed in single use, sealed packages to help reduce the risk of contamination compared to multi-use containers.

1. Jacobs et al. Pediatrics 2013,132(6):1055-1062;
2. Cotton et al. J Perinatol 2005,25:650–655
3. Alganabi et al. F1000Research 2019,8:1-8
4. Neu & Walker. N Engl J Med 2011,364(3):255-264
5. Chawanpaiboon et al. The Lancet 2019,7:37-46
6. Fitzgibbons et al. J Pediatr Surg 2009,44(6):1072-1075
7. Bin-Nun et al. J Pediatr

Chr. Hansen is a leading, global bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. We develop and produce cultures, enzymes, probiotics and natural colors for a rich variety of foods, confectionery, beverages, dietary supplements and even animal feed and plant protection. Our product innovation is based on more than 30,000 microbial strains – we like to refer to them as ‘good bacteria’. Our solutions enable food manufacturers to produce more with less – while also reducing the use of chemicals and other synthetic additives – which make our products highly relevant in today’s world. We have been delivering value to our partners – and, ultimately, end consumers worldwide – for over 140 years. We are proud that more than one billion people consume products containing our natural ingredients every day. Revenue in the 2017/18 financial year was EUR 1,097 million. Chr. Hansen was founded in 1874 and is listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen.

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