Clinical Medicine Insights: Pediatrics

Early Benefits of a Starter Formula Enriched in Prebiotics and Probiotics on the Gut Microbiota of Healthy Infants Born to HIV+ Mothers: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial

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Clinical Medicine Insights: Pediatrics 2016:10 119-130

Original Research

Published on 08 Jan 2017

DOI: 10.4137/CMPed.S40134

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The gut microbiota of infants is shaped by both the mode of delivery and the type of feeding. The gut of vaginally and cesarean-delivered infants is colonized at different rates and with different bacterial species, leading to differences in the gut microbial composition, which may persist up to 6 months. In a multicenter, randomized, controlled, double-blind trial conducted in South Africa, we tested the effect of a formula supplemented with a prebiotic (a mixture of bovine milk-derived oligosaccharides [BMOS] generated from whey permeate and containing galactooligosaccharides and milk oligosaccharides such as 3'- and 6'-sialyllactose) and the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis (B. lactis) strain CNCM I-3446 on the bifidobacteria levels in the gut of infants born vaginally or via cesarean section in early life. Additionally, the safety of the new formulation was evaluated. A total of 430 healthy, full-term infants born to HIV-positive mothers who had elected to feed their child beginning from birth (≤3 days old) exclusively with formula were randomized into this multicenter trial of four parallel groups. A total of 421 infants who had any study formula intake were included in the full analysis set (FAS). The first two groups consisted of cesarean-delivered infants assigned to the Test formula (n = 92) (a starter infant formula [IF] containing BMOS at a total oligosaccharide concentration of 5.8 ± 1.0 g/100 g of powder formula [8 g/L in the reconstituted formula] + B. lactis [1 × 10⁷ colony-forming units {cfu}/g]) or a Control IF (n = 101); the second two groups consisted of vaginally delivered infants randomized to the same Test (n = 115) or Control (n = 113) formulas from the time of enrollment to 6 months. The primary efficacy outcome was fecal bifidobacteria count at 10 days, and the primary safety outcome was daily weight gain (g/d) between 10 days and 4 months. At 10 days, fecal bifidobacteria counts were significantly higher in the Test formula than in the Control formula group among infants with cesarean birth (median [range] log: 9.41 [6.30–10.94] cfu/g versus 6.30 [6.30–10.51] cfu/g; P = 0.002) but not among those with vaginal birth (median [range] log: 10.06 [5.93–10.77] cfu/g versus 9.85 [6.15–10.79] cfu/g; P = 0.126). The lower bound of the two-sided 95% confidence interval of the difference in the mean daily weight gain between the Test and Control formula groups was more than –3 g/d in both the vaginally and cesarean-delivered infants, indicating that growth in the Test formula-fed infants was not inferior to that of Control formula-fed infants. At 10 days and 4 weeks, the fecal pH of infants fed the Test formula was significantly lower than in those fed the Control formula, irrespective of mode of delivery: for vaginal delivery: 4.93 versus 5.59; P < 0.001 (10 days) and 5.01 versus 5.71; P < 0.001 (4 weeks); for cesarean delivery: 5.14 versus 5.65, P = 0.009 (10 days) and 5.06 versus 5.75,

P < 0.001 (4 weeks). At 3 months, this acidification effect only persisted among cesarean-born infants. IF supplemented with the prebiotic BMOS and probiotic B. lactis induced a strong bifidogenic effect in both delivering modes, but more explicitly correcting the low bifidobacteria level found in cesarean-born infants from birth. The supplemented IF lowered the fecal pH and improved the fecal microbiota in both normal and cesarean-delivered infants. The use of bifidobacteria as a probiotic even in infants who are immunologically at risk is safe and well tolerated.




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