Objective: To compare the effect of 2 prebiotic/probiotic products on weight gain, stool microbiota, and stool short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) content of premature infants.
Patients and methods: This randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial included 90 premature infants treated with either a dietary supplement containing 2 lactobacillus species plus fructooligosaccharides (CUL, Culturelle, ConAgra, Omaha, NE), a supplement containing several species of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria plus fructooligosaccharides (PBP, ProBioPlus DDS, UAS Laboratories, Eden Prairie, MN), or placebo (a dilute preparation of Pregestamil formula) twice daily for 28 days or until discharge if earlier. The primary outcome was weight gain. Secondary outcomes were stool bacterial analysis by culture and 16S rDNA quantitative polymerase chain reaction and stool SCFA content measured by high performance liquid chromatography.
Results: Both prebiotic/probiotic combinations contained more bacterial species than noted on the label. No significant effect on infant growth of either prebiotic/probiotic supplement was observed. By cultures, 64% of infants receiving PBP became colonized with bifidobacteria, compared with 18% of infants receiving CUL and 27% of infants receiving placebo (chi-square, P = 0.064). No differences were noted between groups in colonization rates for lactobacilli, Gram-negative enteric bacteria, or staphylococci. By 16S rDNA polymerase chain reaction analysis, the bifidobacteria content in the stools of the infants receiving PBP was higher than in the infants receiving CUL or placebo (Kruskal-Wallis, P = 0.011). No significant differences in stool SCFA content were detected between groups. No adverse reactions were noted.
Conclusions: Infants receiving PBP were more likely to become colonized with bifidobacteria. No significant differences in weight gain or stool SCFA content were detected.