Recently I wrote about the differences among probiotics and how they can have different consequences as well. An article just out in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition demonstrates that quite well, using an animal model.

Researchers in Taiwan and Chicago* investigated which probiotics would protect premature rats from developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and dying, since this is a devastating illness in (human) infants and previous studies show varying degrees of success with probiotics. They standardized the way all of the animals were taken care of and supplemented different groups with 5 different probiotics, alone or in combination, so that they had 9 study groups to compare with controls.

They found that Lactobacillus plantarum alone and Bifidobacter bifidum and B longum together reduced NEC best and that the Bifidobacter combination was most effective in lowering the mortality rate. Lactobacillus acidophillus and Bifidobacter breve individually did not lessen NEC. from developing    

The lesson is clear: probiotics differ in their effective benefit in different conditions.

And of course, the study raises even more important questions about these and utilize these differences. Hopefully, further research can help us understand and utilize these differences.

*Wu SF et al. Journal Pediatric Gastroenterology Nutrition. 2013;57:23-28.