Earlier research has reported that by three years old, children may have an adult-like microbiome. But recent studies have suggested that this only occurs in early adulthood.
This indicates that the plasticity of the gut microbiome in early life opens up opportunities for alteration via nutritional intervention, especially since it is still developing during toddlerhood.
To investigate this, researchers at Danone Nutricia Research in Singapore and the Netherlands, as well as from several Thai universities and hospitals, conducted an RCT.
They tested Danone's Young Child Formula, supplemented with short-chain galactooligosaccharides (scGOS) and long-chain fructooligosaccharides (lcFOS), as well as Bifidobacterium breve M-16V (B. breve M-16V), on the development of faecal microbiota in toddlers.
Synbiotics and stools
They recruited 129 Thai children between the ages of one and three for an RCT, and assigned them to two groups: in one, each child was given active YCF, i.e., Young Child Formula with 100ml of scGOS / lcFOS and 1.8 x 107 CFU/g of B. breve M-16V for 12 weeks.
In the other group, each child was given control YCF for 12 weeks. The researchers then assessed the composition and metabolic activity of the children’s faecal microbiota using their stool samples.
They reported that the consumption of active YCF raised the proportion of Bifidobacterium from 27.3% at baseline to 33.3% after 12 weeks. There was also a 7.48% difference in the change from baseline between the active YCF group and the control group.
They added that active YCF intake was "accompanied with a more acidic intestinal milieu", compared to the consumption of control YCF.
At the same time, the pH value in the active YCF group was found to have "decreased statistically significantly", from a median of 7.05 at baseline to 6.79 after 12 weeks.
The researchers wrote: "The consumption of active YCF was associated with a softer, pudding-like stool consistency compared to the (consumption of) control YCF.
"At week 6 and week 12, the between-group difference in stool consistency was statistically significant."
They added that Bifidobacterium was considered to have an influential role in supporting healthy development in childhood, pre-adolescent and adolescent, and therefore, "the putative contribution of Bifidobacterium in shaping a resilient microbiota during development deserves further investigation".
They concluded: "A Young Child Formula supplemented with scGOS / lcFOS and B. breve M-16V positively influences the development of the faecal microbiota in healthy toddlers by supporting higher levels of Bifidobacterium.
"The synbiotic supplementation is also accompanied with a more acidic intestinal milieu, and softer stools."
Source: Beneficial Microbes
"A synbiotic mixture of scGOS/lcFOS and Bifidobacterium breve M-16V increases faecal Bifidobacterium in healthy young children"
Authors: P. Kosuwon, et al.