The effect of enteral supplementation of a prebiotic mixture of non-human milk galacto-, fructo- and acidic oligosaccharides on intestinal permeability in preterm infants.
Preterm infants have an impaired gut barrier function. We aimed to determine the effects of enteral supplementation of a prebiotic mixture consisting of neutral oligosaccharides (short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides (SCGOS)/long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (LCFOS)) and acidic oligosaccharides (AOS) on intestinal permeability of preterm infants as measured by the sugar absorption test in the first week of life. Furthermore, we determined host- and treatment-related factors associated with intestinal permeability. In a randomised controlled trial, preterm infants with a gestational age < 32 weeks and/or birth weight (BW) < 1500 g received enteral supplementation of SCGOS/LCFOS/AOS or placebo (maltodextrin) between days 3 and 30 of life. Intestinal permeability, reflected by the urinary lactulose/mannitol (L/M) ratio after oral ingestion of lactulose and mannitol, was assessed at three time points: before the start of the study (t = 0), at day 4 (t = 1) and at day 7 (t = 2) of life. Data were analysed by generalised estimating equations. In total, 113 infants were included. Baseline patient and nutritional characteristics were not different between the SCGOS/LCFOS/AOS (n 55) and the placebo groups (n 58). SCGOS/LCFOS/AOS had no effect on the L/M ratio between t = 0 and t = 2. In both the groups, the L/M ratio decreased from t = 0 to t = 2 (P < 0·001). Low BW increased the L/M ratio (P = 0·002). Exclusive breast milk feeding and mixed breast milk/formula feeding during the first week of life decreased the L/M ratio (P < 0·001 and P < 0·05, respectively). In conclusion, enteral supplementation of a prebiotic mixture does not enhance the postnatal decrease in intestinal permeability in preterm infants in the first week of life.
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