The results of a new study demonstrates that supplementation of an infant formula with BENEO’s Orafti®Synergy1 (oligofructose-enriched inulin) has a favorable prebiotic effect and is well tolerated by babies. This study was led by Prof. Gigi Veereman-Wauters (Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at UZ Brussels, Belgium) and conducted at the Queen Paola and Middelheim Hospitals ZNA Antwerp, Belgium, in cooperation with the BENEO-Institute.
The study demonstrates that BENEO’s Orafti®Synergy1 supplementation in infant formulas designated for neonates modifies the microflora composition by increasing bifidobacteria, which results in a flora composition resembling that of breast-fed babies. In addition to numerous previously-conducted studies acknowledging beneficial effects on digestive health, and in particular on microflora composition, the recent study also evidences the safety and good tolerance of the oligofructose-enriched inulin in neonates, and opens new opportunities for this prebiotic in the area of infant feeding.
“The early colonization of babies’ microflora plays a pivotal role in many aspects of health. Notably, normal healthy gastrointestinal microflora, especially bifidobacteria, is important in protecting newborn against infections. That is why there has long been an interest in adding prebiotics to infant formulas, with the aim of providing physiological benefits that mimic those observed in breast-fed babies,” explains Prof. Veereman-Wauters regarding the study’s importance. The results of this new study confirm the prebiotic effect of Orafti®Synergy1 in a population that was hardly investigated until now, i.e., newborns. These babies were included in the study within their first days of life.
THE STUDY - BIFIDOBACTERIA COMPARABLE TO BREAST-FED BABIES
The study is a prospective, randomized, double-blind, controlled intervention study including 110 healthy neonates, receiving different prebiotics included in an infant formula over four weeks. The babies received a control (unsupplemented) infant formula, or a formula enriched with Orafti®Synergy1 at two different concentrations (0.4 or 0.8 g/dl), or a formula enriched with galacto-oligosaccharide and fructo-oligosaccharide in a 90:10 relation (0.8 g/dl). A group of breast-fed babies was also included in the study as reference group.
Results of this study show that the tolerance and safety profiles were good for all supplemented formulas; proper growth was observed in all groups as well. The prebiotics had positive effects on some of the measured physiological parameters, by softening stool consistency, while babies in the control group had the hardest stools.
Orafti®Synergy1 intake (0.8 g/dl) further increased bifidobacteria level in babies’ stools in a significant way, after two and four weeks of intake. Very interestingly, the level of bifidobacteria (measured by FISH methodology) was comparable to that of breast-fed babies. All other measured bacteria were not affected by the prebiotic intake.
REACHING FOR THE GOLD STANDARD OF BREASTFEEDING
In the domain of infant nutrition, breastfeeding is considered the gold standard of nutrition and is strongly recommended as the preferred mode of feeding. As infant formulas (as well as breast milk), represent the sole source of nutrients during the first months of a baby’s life, these formulas must respond to the highest standards, notably with a composition, as well as with functional and physiological benefits, that come as close as possible to those of human milk. Other important aspects to consider in the development of infant formulas are their safety and their ability to promote normal growth and development. Among other compounds, mother’s milk contains a substantial amount of oligosaccharides that most probably account for the bifidobacteria-predominant colonization observed in the microflora of breast-fed versus formula-fed infants.
According to Anke Sentko, Vice President Nutrition Communication and Regulatory Affairs BENEO, “We are delighted to have conducted the study together with Prof Veereman-Wauters and her team as an experienced and recognized partner. The results show once again that BENEO’s prebiotics are based on sound science, that they support a healthy microflora which is particularly important in infants, and thus prove beneficial even in a very sensitive population like newborns.”
Veereman-Wauters G, Staelens S, Van de Broek, Plaskie K, Wesling F, Roger LC, McCartney AL, Assam P (2011) Physiological and bifidogenic effects of prebiotic supplements in infant formulae. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 52(6): 763-771, June 2011.
The BENEO-Institute is an organization, which brings together BENEO’s expertise from Nutrition Science, Nutrition Communication and Regulatory Affairs teams. It acts as an advisory body for customers and partners reaching from ingredient approval, physiological effects and nutritional composition, to communication and labeling. The key nutritional topics that form the basis of the BENEO-Institute’s work include weight management, digestive health, bone health, physical and mental performance, the effects of a low glycemic diet in the context of healthy eating, and disease prevention as well as dental health.
The BENEO-Institute facilitates access to the latest scientific research and knowledge throughout all nutritional and regulatory topics related to BENEO ingredients. It provides BENEO customers and partners with substantiated guidance for some of the most critical questions in the food industry. BENEO is a division of the Südzucker Group, employs almost 900 people and has production units in Belgium, Chile, Germany and Italy. www.BENEO-Institute.com, www.BENEO.com.