Incidence of infectious diseases in infants fed follow-on formula containing synbiotics: an observational study

Acta Paediatr. 2010 Nov;99(11):1695-700. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2010.01896.x.


Aim: Infectious diseases in infants are a major public health issue. Synbiotic-enriched formulas (EF) are intended to mimic the beneficial effects of human milk on infectious diseases. We performed an observational study in infants switching to follow-on formula to determine the effects of synbiotic-enriched formula compared to standard formula (SF).

Methods: We recorded family characteristics, medical history and growth data, as well as the symptoms, severity and treatment of infectious diseases. Main outcome measures were compared after adjustments for baseline characteristics.

Results: Between January and June 2007, 771 healthy infants were included in the study; 35.4% experienced at least one infectious disease during the 3-month study period. The most common were upper respiratory tract (24.1%), otitis (6.6%) and gastrointestinal infectious diseases (5.0%). Infants fed synbiotic-enriched formula had fewer infectious diseases overall (EF: 31.0%; SF: 40.6%; p = 0.005) and significantly fewer gastrointestinal infectious diseases (EF: 3.5%; SF: 6.8%; p = 0.03). During follow-up, weight gain was significantly higher (p = 0.0467) in infants fed synbiotic-enriched formula (18.3 ± 8.7 g/day) versus SF (16.9 ± 7.5 g/day).

Conclusions: Supplementation with synbiotics may have beneficial effects on the incidence of infectious disease and growth in infants. Further studies are needed determine optimal doses and composition of synbiotics in infant formula.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / administration & dosage*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Male
  • Otitis / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Synbiotics*
  • Weight Gain