Objective: To evaluate the effect of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 and prebiotic-fortified milk on iron status, anemia, and growth among 1- to 4-year-old children.
Patients and methods: In a community-based double-masked, controlled trial in a periurban population, 624 children were enrolled and randomly allocated to receive either milk fortified with additional probiotic and prebiotic (n = 312) or control milk (n = 312) for 1 year. Probiotic and prebiotic milk contained an additional 1.9 x 10 colony-forming units per day of probiotic B lactis HN019 and 2.4 g/day of prebiotic oligosaccharides milk. Hematological parameters were estimated at baseline and at the end of the study. Height and weight measurements were recorded at baseline, mid study, and the end of the study. Difference of means and multivariate regression models was used to examine the effect of intervention.
Results: Both study groups were similar at baseline. Compliance was high (>85%) and did not vary by intervention groups. As compared with non-fortified milk, consumption of probiotic- and prebiotic-fortified milk for a period of 1 year reduced the risk of being anemic and iron deficient by 45% (95% CI 11%, 66%; P = 0.01) and increased weight gain by 0.13 kg/year (95% CI 0.03, 0.23; P = 0.02).
Conclusions: Preschoolers are usually fed milk, which has good acceptance and can be easily fortified for delivery of probiotics. Consumption of B lactis HN019 and prebiotic-fortified milk resulted in a smaller number of iron-deficient preschoolers and increased weight gain.