Background: The function of prebiotics and probiotics, both individually and synergistically (synbiotics) has been a growing area of interest in health and medicine in recent years. For much longer, the search to best replicate human breast milk as infant formula continues to challenge scientists and researchers. Naturally, the question as to whether or not probiotics and prebiotics play a role in improving the replication of breast milk has come into the research spotlight. In particular, studies have begun to look at how synbiotics may play a role in the infant immune system and rates of infections.
Methods: An exhaustive search of available medical literature was conducted using Web of Science, PubMed-MEDLINE, CINAHL and ProQuest. Key words included: infant, synbiotic, prebiotics and probiotics and respiratory tract infection. Studies were evaluated for quality using the GRADE criteria.
Results: Of the 27 studies found during preliminary screening, 2 articles met all inclusion criteria to be included in this review. One study found no significant difference in rates of infection between synbiotic and control groups. Another study found a lower rates or respiratory and GI infections in the synbiotic group compared to the prebiotic-only control group.
Conclusion: Research at this time cannot definitively state that synbiotic-enhanced formula is superior in protecting full term infants from respiratory or GI infection. However, evidence does suggest that certain strains of probiotics and types of prebiotics could help in reducing rates of these infections if further research can confirm initial findings.
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