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Probiotics healthy for new-borns

Dosing expectant mothers and their new babies with a probiotic mix of good bacteria may help the infants fight off respiratory infections.

Probiotics healthy for new-borns

Dosing expectant mothers and their new babies with a probiotic mix of good bacteria may help the infants fight off respiratory infections. Live probiotic bacteria and dietary prebiotic oligosaccharides (together termed synbiotics) are being used increasingly in infancy these days. Prebiotic oligosaccharides are found naturally in many plants like onions, chicory root, legumes, wheat, asparagus, jicama, leeks and garlic and other plant food. However, the evidence of the long-term safety of synbiotics is lacking. To study the safety and long-term effects of feeding synbiotics to newborns, Finnish researchers randomly assigned pregnant mothers to receive a mix of four different probiotics or inactive placebo four weeks before delivery. The infants received the same bacterial mix, along with prebiotics known as galactooligosaccharides (GOSs) also found in breast milk, or placebo only, every day for six months. The researchers followed the infants up to age 2 years. It was found that during their first six months of life, 28 percent of the infants on placebo were prescribed antibiotics, compared to 23 percent of the infants given synbiotic treatment. Also, the infants in the treatment group averaged 3.7 respiratory infections by two years of age, compared to 4.2 for the placebo group. There was no difference in growth, colic or serious adverse events between the two groups. The findings suggest that synbiotic treatment carries no risks, and may help babies to fight off respiratory infection.
Pediatrics
July 2008
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