European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 172, Issue 3, pp 317–323 | Cite as

Effect of non-human neutral and acidic oligosaccharides on allergic and infectious diseases in preterm infants

  • Nicky Niele
  • Annelies van Zwol
  • Elisabeth AM Westerbeek
  • Harrie N Lafeber
  • Ruurd M van Elburg
Original Article


Short-term supplementation of non-human neutral and acidic oligosaccharides during the first postnatal weeks may enhance the maturation of the immune response in preterm infants and may lead to less allergic and infectious diseases during the first year of life. In a randomized controlled trial, 113 preterm infants (gestational age <32 weeks and/or birth weight <1500 g) were allocated to receive enteral neutral and acidic oligosaccharide supplementation or placebo between days 3 and 30 of life. The median age at follow-up was not different in both groups: 12 months corrected age (interquartile range [IQR], 11–15) in the prebiotic mixture group and 12 months corrected age in the placebo group (IQR, 10–19), respectively. In addition, baseline patient, maternal, and environmental characteristics were not different between the prebiotic mixture (n = 48) and placebo (n = 46) group. Incidence of allergic and infectious diseases was assessed by validated questionnaires. In total, 94/98 (96 %) of the eligible, surviving infants participated in this follow-up study. The incidence of atopic dermatitis (odds ratio [OR], 0.80; 95 % confidence interval [CI], 0.24–2.67), bronchial hyper-reactivity (OR, 1.04; 95 % CI, 0.38–2.87) and infections of the upper respiratory (OR, 0.95; 95 % CI, 0.37–2.44), lower respiratory (OR, 1.03; 95 % CI, 0.37–2.88), and gastrointestinal (OR, 1.77; 95 % CI, 0.55–5.73) tract was not different between the groups. Adjustment for potential confounding factors did not change the results of the primary analysis. Conclusion: Short-term enteral supplementation of non-human neutral and acidic oligosaccharides during the neonatal period in preterm infants does not decrease the incidence of allergic and infectious diseases during the first year of life.


Allergic diseases Infectious diseases Neutral and acidic oligosaccharides Preterm infants 



Study supplementation (prebiotic mixture and maltodextrin) and preterm formula (Nenatal Start) and postdicharge formula (Nenatal 1) for the study were provided by Danone Research, Friedrichsdorf, Germany. We are indebted to the parents for allowing their infants to participate in the study and for participating during the first year of life. Furthermore, we thank the medical and nursing staff of the NICU of the VU University Medical Center and all participating hospitals. The funding source was not involved in the analysis of the data nor the interpretation of the results.

Conflict of interest

RvE is also an employee of Danone Research. None of the authors had a financial relationship with the funding source.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicky Niele
    • 1
  • Annelies van Zwol
    • 1
  • Elisabeth AM Westerbeek
    • 1
  • Harrie N Lafeber
    • 1
  • Ruurd M van Elburg
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Division of NeonatologyVU University Medical Center AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Danone ResearchCentre for Specialised NutritionWageningenThe Netherlands

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