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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2009 Jan;48(1):82-8. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31817b6dd2.

Galacto-oligosaccharides are bifidogenic and safe at weaning: a double-blind randomized multicenter study.

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Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy.



The primary objective of this study was to determine the bifidogenic effect of galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) in a follow-on formula and the effects on other intestinal bacteria. Secondary objectives were the effects on stool characteristics, growth, and general well-being.


In a multicenter, double-blind study, 159 healthy infants, formula-fed at enrollment (at 4-6 months), were randomized to an experimental follow-on formula supplemented with 5 g/L (GOS) (77 infants), or to a standard follow-on formula (control, 82 infants). Infants were evaluated at enrollment (study day 1 = sd1), after 6 weeks (study day 2 = sd2), and after an additional 12 weeks (study day 3 = sd3). At each study day, a fresh stool sample for the bacterial counts was collected, and the growth parameters were measured. At sd2, urinary specimens were collected for the evaluation of urinary osmolarity.


At sd2 and sd3, the GOS group had a higher median number (colony-forming units per gram of stool) of bifidobacteria than did the control group (sd2 GOS 9.2 x 10(9) vs control 4.4 x 10(9), P = 0.012); (sd3 GOS 7.2 x 10(9) vs control 2.4 x 10(9), P = 0.027). Other bacteria did not show any significant differences between the 2 groups at all study days. The GOS produced softer stools but had no effect on stool frequency. The urinary osmolarity (mOsm/L) at sd2 was comparable in both groups. Supplementation had no influence on the incidence of gastrointestinal side effects or on the growth of the infants.


These data indicate that the addition of GOS (5 g/L) to a follow-on formula positively influences the bifidobacteria flora and the stool consistency in infants during the supplementation period at weaning. No local or systemic side effects were recorded.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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