Infant formula infused with prebiotic oligofructose-enriched inulin results in an infant microbiota that is closer to that of breast milk fed infants during the first four months of life, a study has found.
The Beneo Institute-funded study had about 60 infants complete the four-month study using a Beneo supplied prebiotic blend (SYN1) which demonstrated, “higher Bifidobacterium cell counts, softer stools and a higher deposition frequency compared to controls.”
Of the stool improvements they noted, "This improvement of stool frequency and consistency is of great interest, given that this may partly reduce the adverse effects (i.e., constipation) of feeding infants a standard formula rather than breastfeeding."
They were compared to the placebo group and a breast-fed group.
“There were no differences between formulas in anthropometry and relevant adverse events, water balance or blood parameters,” said the researchers from the Paediatrics Research Unit at the Universitat Rovira the Neonatal Unit, Hospital Universitari Joan XXIII de Tarragona, both in Spain.
They concluded: “A 0.8 g/dL SYN1-supplemented infant formula during the first 4 months of life is safe and effective, promoting a gut microbiota closer to that of breastfeeding.“
“Whereas human milk contains about 8% of total carbohydrates in the form of prebiotic oligosaccharides, infant milk formulas do not contain such prebiotics unless they are enriched,” said lead researcher, Ricardo Closa Monasterolo.
The researchers noted a high drop out rate (about 50%) might compromise the results to a degree but said it was a normal rate in infant trials and noted, “this study demonstrates that SYN1 supplementation promotes a trend toward increased Bifidobacterium in the gut which might be the physiological mechanism to promote a deposition pattern closer to that promoted by human milk.“
Under EU laws, infant formulas have severe restrictions around their marketing.
Anke Sentko, VP of regulatory affairs and nutrition communication at Beneo, commented: “We’re confident that this additional scientific data will give confidence and inspiration to manufacturers that are looking to improve their baby-food products.”
February 2013 (10.1016/j.clnu.2013.02.009)
‘Safety and efficacy of inulin and oligofructose supplementation in infant formula: Results from a randomized clinical trial‘
Authors:R. Closa-Monasterolo, M. Gispert-Llaurado, V. Luque, N. Ferre, C. Rubio-Torrents, M. Zaragoza-Jordana, J. Escribano