Physiological and bifidogenic effects of prebiotic supplements in infant formulae

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011 Jun;52(6):763-71. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182139f39.


Objectives: This randomized controlled trial involving 110 healthy neonates studied physiological and bifidogenic effects of galactooligosaccharides (GOS), oligofructose, and long-chain inulin (fructooligosaccharides, FOS) in formula.

Methods: Subjects were randomized to Orafti Synergy1 (50 oligofructose:50 FOS) 0.4 g/dL or 0.8 g/dL, GOS:FOS (90:10) 0.8 g/dL, or a standard formula according to Good Clinical Practice guidelines. A breast-fed group was included for comparison. Outcome parameters were weight, length, intake, stool characteristics, crying, regurgitation, vomiting, adverse events, and fecal bacterial population counts. Statistical analyses used nonparametric tests.

Results: During the first month of life, weight, length, intake, and crying increased significantly in all of the groups. Regurgitation and vomiting scores were low and similar. Stool frequency decreased significantly and similarly in all of the formula groups but was lower than in the breast-fed group. All of the prebiotic groups maintained soft stools, only slightly harder than those of breast-fed infants. The standard group had significantly harder stools at weeks 2 and 4 compared with 1 (P < 0.001 and P = 0.0279). The total number of fecal bacteria increased in all of the prebiotic groups (9.82, 9.73, and 9.91 to 10.34, 10.38, and 10.37, respectively, log10 cells/g feces, P = 0.2298) and more closely resembled the breast-fed pattern. Numbers of lactic acid bacteria, bacteroides, and clostridia were comparable. In the SYN1 0.8 g/dL and GOS:FOS groups, Bifidobacterium counts were significantly higher at D14 and 28 compared with D3 and were comparable with the breast-fed group. Tolerance and growth were normal.

Conclusions: Stool consistency and bacterial composition of infants taking SYN1 0.8 g/dL or GOS:FOS-supplemented formula were closer to the breast-fed pattern. There was no risk of dehydration.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Load / drug effects
  • Bifidobacterium*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Crying
  • Defecation / drug effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Feces* / microbiology
  • Food Microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Growth / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula*
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Prebiotics*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vomiting


  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics