New study shows positive impact of synbiotics on gut microbiota development in early life

New research conducted in Thailand looked at the effects of a formula with synbiotics (combination of pro- and prebiotics) on a baby’s microbiota development. Study results suggest formulas with a blend of synbiotics can contribute to a gut microbiota that is closer to that of healthy breast-fed infants.

There is no doubt about it, breast milk is the best nutrition for babies. It’s a complex substance that besides water is composed of many different compounds like proteins, fats, lactose, prebiotic fibres and beneficial bacteria. It is estimated that breast milk contains about 1000–100.000 bacterial cells per milliliter1. Through breastfeeding, these bacteria can settle in the infant’s gut and shape a baby’s gut microbiota.

The randomized double-blind study that was conducted in Thailand, recently published in Nature Scientific Reports, investigated how adding synbiotics to baby formula affected the presence of good bacteria (bifidobacteria) in the gut of babies that are not breastfed.

After 6 weeks babies receiving the cow’s milk formulas with synbiotics showed significantly increased bifidobacteria proportions compared to babies in the control group. Furthermore, the synbiotic supplementation also decreased the presence of potentially harmful bacteria in the gut.

The formulas with synbiotics also contributed to significantly softer stools. Constipation and hard stools are more common among formula-fed infants than breastfed infants, which indicates supplementing formula with the synbiotic mixture could have a favorable effect on a baby’s stool consistency as well.

All of these findings indicate supplementing a baby formula with synbiotics can contribute to a gut microbiota closer to that of healthy breastfed infants. Which in turn contributes to resilience and healthy immune system development in early life.

Breast milk is the best possible nutrition for all infants. It provides the optimal nutritional balance for each individual infant, being specifically adapted and uniquely formulated to fully support their growth and development needs. We support World Health Organization’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods for two years and beyond.

  1. Boix-Amoros, A., Collado, M. C. & Mira, A. Relationship between milk microbiota, bacterial load, macronutrients, and human cells during lactation. Front. Microbiol. 7, 492 (2016)

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