The results from this new study sponsored by BENEO were presented for the first time at the annual meeting from the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) that took place May 25-28, 2016 in Athens. The event is attended by pediatricians and key opinion leaders involved in infant nutrition, from across Europe and all five continents.
The new research was introduced by Prof. Tamás Decsi, from the University of Pécs (Hungary), in the Plenary Nutrition Session, and was followed by not less than 500 people.
The study is a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind trial, where children aged 3 to 6 years of age and recruited from 22 kindergartens, were randomly allocated to receive 6 g/day of either inulin-type fructans or maltodextrin for 6 months. The microbiota composition was quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed by the most up to dated techniques of qPCR (quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction) and NGS (Next Generation Sequencing). This analysis took place at the beginning and end of the study, but also after an antibiotic treatment. Infectious episodes were recorded.
219 children completed the study. Bifidobacteria counts were significantly enhanced upon prebiotic intake at the end of the study as well as during antibiotic treatment, compared to controls. Lactobacilli decreased over time within the placebo group, but remained stable in the prebiotic group. Children supplemented with inulin-type fructans had significantly less febrile episodes requiring physician’s consultation and sinusitis episodes than the ones in the control group.
Lastly, adding prebiotics benefited the stools of the children, that became softer (while remaining within the normal range).
In conclusion, results from this new study add the mounting evidence of pronounced and sustained bifidogenic effect, that was well-documented in infants, and for which there is now evidence in children as well. A supporting effect on stabilization of the microbiota composition during antibiotic therapy was shown, and importantly, the prebiotic effect also resulted in protection towards certain infections during the cold season period in kindergarten children. This adds to the knowledge of benefits of prebiotic supplementation in childhood and opens up for new perspectives in terms of research.