A number of studies involving the feeding of probiotics and prebiotics to infants have been published over the last decade. These studies have examined a wide range of health outcomes, including growth and safety, prophylaxis and alleviation of diarrheal disease, reduction in atopic disease, reduction in necrotizing enterocolitis, and reduction in infection of the preterm infant. In addition, these studies have described microbiological alterations observed in response to probiotic and prebiotic feeding. Collectively, the reports demonstrate that probiotics show considerable promise in addressing several health outcomes of significance to both formula-fed and breastfed infants. As quantitative and qualitative differences appear to exist between the microfloras of human-milk fed and formula-fed infants, recent innovations to infant formula have involved the inclusion of probiotics and prebiotics as a means of making the flora of the formula fed infant more similar to that of the breastfed infant. To date, only a few probiotic- and prebiotic-containing infant formulas have been marketed, but as new safety and efficacy data emerge and the regulatory climate becomes more favourable, the number of products is expected to grow.
bifidobacteria, infant, infant formula, lactobacilli, prebiotics, probiotics
Wyeth Nutrition Research&Development, PO Box 8299, Philadelphia, PA 19101, USA.