Probiotic and Prebiotic in Infant Nutrition Supports Babies Health Revealed in New Scientific Evidence


We all know that the mother's breast milk is the best source of nutrition for newborns and infants. If possible, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended within the first hour after birth up to six months of age. Breastfeeding complemented with solid foods can be continued up to two years or beyond.

Studies about the nutritional composition and benefits of breast milk never stops. In a recent round table discussion I attended at Holiday Inn Makati, Dr. Eduardo Lopez-Huertas from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) shared with us new scientific evidence regarding the combination of probiotic and prebiotic in infant nutrition and how it supports the health of the babies.

Recent studies published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition & Pharmacological Research reveal that a combination of the probiotic lactobacillus fermentum and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) given to babies over a six-month period significantly reduced the rate of gastrointestinal and respiratory infection in babies between 6-12 months of age. In addition, it was demonstrated that l.fermentum was safe and well tolerated in babies from 1-12 months of age. As a secondary outcome, the consumption of the combination of l.fermentum and GOS improved the health of infants (1-6 months) by reducing the incidence of gastrointestinal infections by 71%. 

Breastmilk is the gold standard in infant nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding is the recommended way of feeding infants. The new study shows that, if breastfeeding is not possible due to the mother’s condition, infant nutrition may be an alternative. Breastmilk contains lactic acid bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, including l.fermentum, and prebiotics containing galactose. The administration of l.fermentum in infant nutrition to babies between 6-12 months of age produced reductions of gastrointestinal infections (46%) and reductions of upper respiratory infections (27%) such as common cold, pharyngitis, tonsillitis. 

Combination support of probiotic l.fermentum & GOS and CS born-babies 

During birth, bacteria, including probiotics, are transferred from mother to baby as it passes through the vaginal canal. The presence of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract protects the baby from diseases and infections. 

Women who deliver babies by CS are less likely to breastfeed or delay breastfeeding initiation. It has been shown that CS-born babies possess less beneficial bacteria and more potentially pathogenic bacteria in the gut. This increases the risk of diseases later on in life like asthma or atopic dermatitis. For CS-born babies who cannot be breastfed, infant nutrition containing a combination of l.fermentum and GOS may be considered. 

“For babies who cannot be breastfed, the combination of the breastmilk probiotic l.fermentum and the prebiotic GOS in infant nutrition presents advantages regarding community-acquired infections mainly gastrointestinal infections. In addition, for babies born by CS who cannot be breastfed a formula with pre and probiotics should be considered due to its possible benefits,” said Dr. Eduardo Lopez-Huertas, a research scientist and author of published clinical researches on babies’ nutrition and health.