Aim: This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of prebiotics on some common clinical ailments in healthy term infants.
Methods: Sixty healthy-term, breastfed (BF) infants were included. Along with these infants, 120 healthy-term formula-fed infants were randomly assigned to either the prebiotic formula (PF, n = 60) or regular formula (RF, n = 60) groups. Ready-to-use prebiotic-supplemented formula containing galacto-oligosaccharides and polydextrose (ratio 1:1) was used.
Results: At 2 months of age, PF infants demonstrated significantly higher weight gain than BF and RF. At 6 months of age, bodyweight was significantly higher in the RF group compared to BF and PF groups (P < 0.05). Similar results were seen at 8, 10 and 12 months of age. At 10 months of age, the duration of diarrhoea was significantly shorter in PF-fed compared to the RF (P = 0.03) group. A significant difference was found between PF and RF (P < 0.0001) and BF and RF groups (P = 0.002) for diarrhoea duration. Means of constipation episodes per year were 0.03 ± 0.18, 0.433 ± 0.77 and 0.1 ± 0.30 for the BF, RF and PF groups, respectively, with significant difference found between BF and RF (P = 0.006) and PF and RF (P = 0.02). The means of episodes of respiratory tract infections per year for BF, RF and PF groups were 1 ± 0.69, 1.6 ± 0.88 and 1 ± 0.58, respectively (P = 0.01).
Conclusion: Prebiotic-supplemented and regular formula were similar to breast milk regarding prophylactic effects for diarrhoea, constipation and respiratory tract infections in the first year of life. Prebiotic-supplemented formula may be an appropriate substitution for breast milk when breast milk in unavailable.
Keywords: constipation; diarrhoea; neonate; prebiotics; respiratory tract infection.
© 2018 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians).