Background and aim Meta-analyses show that probiotics significantly reduce necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and/or mortality in high-risk preterm infants. Since January 2013, our centre has offered a routine combination probiotic (Infloran®) to preterm infants. We provide written parental information and give parents the opportunity to opt out. We wanted to evaluate parents’ opinions on probiotic use in preterm infants.
Methods In December 2013 we conducted a postal survey of all 80 sets of parents of the 90 babies given probiotics in the period Jan–Nov 2013 who survived to discharge.
Results No parents have yet declined probiotics in our NICU. Responses were received from 53 parents. Of these, 74% considered it unnecessary to inform parents prior to starting probiotics; 90% had not worried that their baby was being given live bacteria; 88% were unconcerned about possible unknown risks of probiotics; 88% reported their anxieties in the NICU were eased by knowing their baby was receiving probiotic treatment. Almost all (96%) considered that parents of high-risk premature babies born at other units that do not yet offer probiotics should nevertheless still have the right to be informed of the evidence that probiotics reduce NEC and save lives; moreover 64% felt that, given the current evidence, those parents should not only have a right to be informed but should also be allowed the option of probiotics for their babies.
Conclusion Parents informed of the evidence and offered the option of probiotic prophylaxis for their babies appear to understand and appreciate the evidence and enthusiastically embrace probiotic usage.
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