Supporting intestinal health: Chr. Hansen’s three-strain probiotic blend for preterm babies
29 Nov 2019 --- A new three-strain probiotic blend from Chr. Hansen may help support intestinal health and development in preterm babies. It has been shown to reduce the risk of Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) by 50 percent, notes the company. NEC is an inflammatory disease and is the leading cause of mortality worldwide for preterm babies. 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.
The 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. The blend has been shown to help reduce the risk of NEC by up to 50 percent, as documented in two clinical trials including a total of more than 1,200 preterm infants born two months or earlier than due date.
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.
“Our product has been demonstrated in clinical trials to help preterm babies. This, however, is the first time that the product has been specifically developed and formulated to be used in intensive care units of hospitals that care for the preterm babies,” Adam Baker, Senior Manager of Human Health Innovation, tells NutritionInsight.
About 1-2 percent of all infants are born very preterm or extremely preterm – i.e., two months or earlier than a due date – which is some 2.4 million babies globally every year.
NEC affects approximately 5 percent of this group and results in a mortality rate of up to 30 percent.
“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
Due to the high vulnerability of preterm infants to infections, Chr. Hansen explains how it implemented the most rigorous of production processes to ensure its food supplement was a “best-in-class product.”
“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.
Chr. Hansen’s blends display how efficacious probiotics can be for a wide range of health areas. A study funded by the company found that over two million antibiotic courses could be avoided each year if the US population took probiotics, while Bifidobacteria breve (Bif195) can prevent and heal ulcers caused by acetylsalicyclic acid, commonly known as aspirin.
Chr. Hansen also recently started BacThera, a 50/50 joint venture with pharma contract manufacturing company Lonza. The new collaboration, which will attract €90 million in investment from the companies over the next three years, specializes in the manufacturing of live biotherapeutic products.
By Laxmi Haigh
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