Thursday, October 14, 2010

Prebiotics help infants

Feeding infants with a prebiotic-enriched formula reduced the incidence of atopic dermatitis by 44 percent in a recent study released this week. This backs up a ground swell of studies highlighting the benefits of both prebiotic, probiotic and symbiotic fomulas to help with conditions such as allergy, eczema and infections particularly in bottle fed babies. Prebiotics are the foods that feed the healthy probiotics and synbiotics is when both prebiotics and probiotics are included together. Infants fed prebiotic formula had a significant reduction in the incidence of atopic dermatitis in children classified as being at low-risk, according to findings published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2010, Volume 126, Pages 791-797)
The microbial ecosystem of the GI tract, particularly the large intestine has multiple beneficial functions including immune system stimulation, barrier function (provide a barrier protection against pathogens), maintenance of gut nutrition and circulation, production of nutrients and stimulation of bowel movements. It is essential that the ‘balance’ of microflora is maintained in the intestine, ensuring these important and specific functions can be carried out optimally. The main approach to increasing the number of health promoting organisms in the GI tract is the oral administration of live beneficial microbes known as probiotics or prebiotics.

In another study adding prebiotics to infant formula reduced the number of gut infections and reduce the use of antibiotics. Imagine prebiotics instead of having to treat with antibiotics. All bottle fed babies should be on prebiotic formulas. This study followed 342 infants. The infants were randomly assigned to receive either a control formula, or a formula containing an additional mixture of prebiotics over the course of 12 months, the researchers documented that the incidence of gastroenteritis was lower in the prebiotic-supplemented formula group with only 0.12 episodes per child throughout the year, compared to 0.29 episodes per child in the control group. As a result the researchers reported that prebiotic administration reduce intestinal and, possibly, respiratory infections in healthy infants during the first year of age. The likely mechanism is through an increase in bifidobacteria and their concomitant anti-pathogen effects (Clinical Nutrition. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2009.01.008)

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