Supplementation of prebiotics in infant formula
Ana Močić Pavić, Iva Hojsak
Referral Center for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Children's Hospital Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia
Background: In recent years prebiotics have been added to infant formula to make it resemble breast milk more closely and to promote growth and development of beneficial intestinal microbiota. This review aims to present new data on the possible positive effects of prebiotics in infant formula on intestinal microbiota (bifidogenic and lactogenic effect) and on clinical outcomes including growth, infections, and allergies. With that aim, a literature search of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), EMBASE, Scopus, PubMed/Medline, Web of Science, and Science Direct in the last 10 years (December 2003 to December 2013) was performed.
Results: Altogether 24 relevant studies were identified. It was found that during intervention, prebiotics can elicit a bifidogenic and lactogenic effect. As far as clinical outcomes were concerned, 14 studies investigated the effect of infant formula supplemented with prebiotics on growth and found that there was no difference when compared with non-supplemented infant formula. All available data are insufficient to support prebiotic supplementation in order to reduce risk of allergies and infections.
Conclusion: There is currently no strong evidence to recommend routine supplementation of infant formulas with prebiotics. Further well-designed clinical studies with long-term follow-up are needed.
Keywords: prebiotics, infant formula, growth, allergy, infections, supplementation
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