Caister Academic Press

Infant Development, Currently the Main Applications of Probiotics And Prebiotics?

Giuseppe Mazzola, Irene Aloisio and Diana Di Gioia
from: Probiotics and Prebiotics: Current Research and Future Trends (Edited by: Koen Venema and Ana Paula do Carmo). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2015) Pages: 391-406.


Research on probiotics and prebiotics for use in infants is very active and results on their efficacy to prevent and combat several diseases are at present available. Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are considered beneficial bacteria for the gut, the former being the predominant group of healthy breast-fed newborns. One of the major area of probiotic research in children has been the treatment and prevention of diarrhea. Moreover, a large number of infant pathologies, both enteric (infantile colics, necrotizing enterocolitis, celiac disease) and not strictly enteric (allergies, obesity, neurologic disease) have revealed promising preventive and therapeutic effects of probiotics, although these applications need additional experimental evidences. Recent studies have shown that probiotic strain characteristics are crucial to reach a targeted therapeutic effect. One of the major aspect affecting the gut microbial composition of breast-fed neonates is the presence of oligosaccharides in breast milk. These molecules exert a prebiotic effect which is crucial for the development of a healthy gut microbiota. Research studies have been focused on the selection of fibers possessing a prebiotic role similar to human milk oligosaccharides. Galactooligosaccharides and fructoligosaccharides are abundantly used in infant formula, frequently as mixtures of the two molecules. Several studies have shown that the capability of stimulating beneficial bacteria and of shaping the gut microbiota is similar to that of breast milk. On the contrary, studies regarding the use of prebiotics in infants for the prevention of allergies showed contradictory results. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that children are a very important target, if not the main one, for probiotic and prebiotic administration and the European industry is aware of that read more ...
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