Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Lactoferrin and necrotizing enterocolitis

Sherman, Michael P.a; Miller, Mindy M.b; Sherman, Jana,c; Niklas, Victoriad

Current Opinion in Pediatrics: April 2014 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - p 146–150
doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000068
NEONATOLOGY AND PERINATOLOGY: Edited by Richard A. Polin and Tara M. Randis

Purpose of review There is an intense interest among neonatal caregivers as to whether lactoferrin given enterally may reduce the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. This review presents scientific and clinical evidence that lactoferrin alleviates or prevents this life-threatening disease.

Recent findings Preclinical studies in neonatal rats showed that lactoferrin given orally before enteral infection with pathogenic Escherichia coli reduced bacteremia and mortality. A multicentered clinical trial found that very low-birth weight preterm infants given bovine lactoferrin had a significant reduction in late-onset sepsis; there was also a trend towards a diminished incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis. Although multicentered trials of lactoferrin use in preterm infants are near completion, regulatory burdens required to bring lactoferrin to the bedside may limit its availability.

Summary Extremely preterm infants should receive colostrum, a natural lactoferrin concentrate, immediately after birth and, ideally, continue on breast milk throughout the hospital stay. This practice appears well tolerated, but additional experience will tell us whether this practice reduces the prevalence of necrotizing enterocolitis.

aDepartment of Child Health

bDepartment of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine

cSinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri

dDivision of Neonatal Medicine, Nemours Children's Hospital, Orlando, Florida, USA

Correspondence to Michael P. Sherman, MD, FAAP, Suite 206, Division of Neonatology, Women's and Children's Hospital, 404 Keene Street, Columbia, MO 65201, USA. Tel: +1 573 356 5436/+1 573 882 2272; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins