Aim: To determine the effect of neutral oligosaccharides [small-chain galacto-oligosaccharides/long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scGOS/lcFOS)] in combination with acidic oligosaccharides (pAOS) on stool viscosity, stool frequency and stool pH in preterm infants.
Methods: In this explorative RCT, preterm infants with gestational age <32 weeks and/or birth weight <1500 g received enteral supplementation with scGOS/lcFOS/pAOS or placebo (maltodextrin) between days 3 and 30 of life. Stool samples were collected at day 30 after birth.
Results: In total, 113 infants were included. Baseline and nutritional characteristics were not different between both groups. Stool viscosity at day 30 was lower in the prebiotics group (16.8N) (3.9–67.8) compared with the placebo group (26.3N) (1.3–148.0) (p = 0.03; 95% CI −0.80 to 0.03). There was a trend towards higher stool frequency in the prebiotics group (3.1 ± 0.8) compared with the placebo group (2.8 ± 0.7) (p = 0.15; 95% CI −0.08 to 0.52). Stool pH at day 30 was lower in the in the prebiotics group (5.9 ± 0.6) compared with the placebo group (6.2 ± 0.3) (p = 0.009; 95% CI 0.08 to 0.53).
Conclusions: Enteral supplementation of a prebiotic mixture consisting of neutral (scGOS/lcFOS) and acidic oligosaccharides (pAOS) decreases stool viscosity and stool pH with a trend towards increased stool frequency in preterm infants. The inclusion of pAOS in a formula containing a mixture of scGOS/lcFOS does not add specific advantages to the formula in terms of stool viscosity, frequency, pH as well as feeding tolerance.