Research Update On Paediatric Probiotics

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Research shows BifidoB and LactoB provide clear infant health benefits, says Angela Rowan, category marketing manager, paediatrics, NZMP.  


It’s well-known that setting infants up with a good immune system helps them through life. Breastfeeding to improve the immune system is best for the baby, but in cases where this isn’t possible or a mother chooses not to, a suitable infant formula is required.

Our consumers tell us that digestive comfort is a top concern for many parents, and gastrointestinal symptoms are a leading cause of formula switching. Evidence shows that more than half of infants six months and under may exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms. Thus, NZMP is always investing in research to understand how to improve the function of an infant’s immature and developing gut.

Probiotic ingredients may be a way for formula-fed infants to get many of the benefits they would have received via breast milk.


What Are Probiotics?

Research shows that probiotics have protection properties, including anti-infection. It also helps improve immunity, and some highly sophisticated probiotic strains have shown promising anti-allergy and gut comfort properties. Choosing the right probiotic to fit the need is important.

Consuming the right amount of the right probiotics in a ‘live state’ works to provide health benefits. NZMP’s SureStart ingredients have been through rigorous testing to understand how key ingredients work and interact with each other. This means we can provide multi-benefit solutions for clients and their consumers.

Investment In R&D

After more than 20 years of R&D, NZMP’s probiotic ingredients are considered the best in the world for stability in milk powder. Probiotic criteria are strict: they must be safe, effective and stable. Fonterra’s probiotic research programme started by screening more than 2,000 lactic acid bacterial strains to identify the two that NZMP developed to market. The process included robust clinical trials proving that ingredients are effective, safe and well-tolerated across key life stages. We also conducted extensive pre-clinical research supporting the safety profile of each one.

Two probiotic strains, both sourced from dairy cultures, meet FAO and WHO requirements of probiotics and deliver demonstrated health benefits for infants. These are known as SureStart BifidoB 019 and SureStart LactoB 001. In research trials, consumption of SureStart probiotic strains have consistently shown immune supporting attributes.


Research Into BifidoB

The microbiota of the breastfed baby has a characteristic profile of bacteria, typically higher in Bifidobacteria. This is the bacterial group that the probiotic in SureStart BifidoB 019 belongs to. Bifidobacteria are thought to play important roles in the development of the immune system and a healthy, balanced gut. The presence of Bifidobacteria is believed to help account for lower rates of illness in breastfed infants.

Some probiotic strains can help prevent disease-causing bacteria from gaining access to nutrients in the gut or prevent these bacteria from attaching to the gut wall. This inhibits the ability for disease-causing bacteria to grow and thrive. NZMP research investigated the effect of feeding a probiotic-supplemented formula on infants aged 6-15 months over a 12-week period. The research found a reduction in both infections and in the need for prescribed antibiotic or antiviral medication in infants consuming BifidoB 019.

Further research trials have shown that Surestart BifidoB 019 delivers a range of clearly defined and demonstrable health benefits for formula-fed infants. This includes reduced incidences of common childhood illnesses such as:

  • Reduced respiratory infections
  • Decreased severity of illness
  • Lower rates of prescribed medication

A one-year trial with 600 children consuming BifidoB 019 in combination with prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) demonstrated lower incidences of fever and childhood illnesses.

Children taking BifidoB 019 + GOS showed:

  • 35 percent reduction in incidences of severe acute lower respiratory infections
  • 24 percent reduction in incidences of pneumonia
  • 21 percent reduction in incidences of dysentery episodes
  • 16 percent reduction in days/duration with severe illness
  • 5 percent reduction in days/duration with high fever.

Source: Sazawal et al. 2010


Research Into LactoB 001

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is the probiotic in SureStart LactoB 001. Research shows that consumption of SureStart LactoB 001, a lactic acid bacteria, has immune-enhancing attributes. These have potential for a wide range of positive effects on health and well-being.

Evidence also suggests that some probiotic strains may help reduce the risk of allergies by boosting the ability of the immune system to moderate allergic responses. SureStart LactoB 001 has been shown to help protect infants from the onset of eczema and may also help protect infants from allergies such as hay fever and rhinitis. Further, the probiotic has been shown to have a lasting impact on the immune system with an allergy reduction benefit that lasts throughout childhood.

The results of a two-year trial with 425 children demonstrated long term prevention against eczema and reduced risk of respiratory allergies in infants and children, with benefits beyond the treatment period.

Children taking LactoB 001 showed:

  • Almost 50 percent reduction in developing eczema symptoms by age two (maintained at age four)
  • Reduced symptoms of hay fever, rhinitis and rhinoconjunctivitis at age four
  • No difference in risk of asthma at four years of age.


Source: Wickens et al. (2012) Clinical and Experimental Allergy 42:1071-79

A follow-up study confirmed that the reduced risk of eczema seen when probiotics is taken until age two, continues to age six. Results at six years of age showed:

  • 44 percent reduction in eczema
  • 31 percent reduction in the severity of eczema
  • 31 percent reduction in allergic sensitisation

Source: Wickens et al. (2013) Clinical and Experimental Allergy 43:1048-71


Trust Your Gut

SureStart aims to be the most trusted source of probiotic paediatric ingredients in the world. We are continually investing in research that lets us, and our customers, understand the benefits for infants when they consume certain ingredients.

Both BifidoB 019 and LactoB 001 probiotic strains have been shown to provide clear benefits for infants, including improved digestive function and immune-enhancing attributes.

This latest research gives nutrition brands the ability to offer new benefits to consumers and stay ahead in a growing, yet competitive market.


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