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Synbiotic fails to redress African malnutrition

Last updated on 10-Jul-2009 at 11:22 GMT2009-07-10T11:22:30Z

Adding a probiotic-prebiotic mix to a conventional high-energy foods used in feeding programmes in Africa failed to improve severe malnutrition outcomes, says new research in The Lancet.

However researchers from University College London, College of Medicine Malawi, and Valid International UK did observe a reduction in outpatient mortality in children given the supplement, a result that “should be explored” further, they said.

The study assessed the efficacy of a synbiotic functional food (Synbiotic2000 Forte) against severe acute malnutrition in an HIV-prevalent setting. Almost 800 Malawian children took part in the study that found no improvements in the incidence of malnutrition, but a tendency to reduce outpatient mortality in the synbiotic group.

“The observation of reduced outpatient mortality might be caused by bias, confounding, or chance, but is biologically plausible, has potential for public health impact, and should be explored in future studies," wrote the authors.

The synbiotic contained Pediococcus pentosaceus 16:1 LMG P-20608, Leuconostoc mesenteroides 23-77:1 LMG P-20607, Lactobacillus paracasei ssp paracasei F-19 LMG P-17806, Lactobacillus plantarum 2362 LMG P-20606), oat bran, inulin, pectin, and resistant starch.

Source: The Lancet
Volume 374, Issue 9684, Pages 136-144
“Probiotics and prebiotics for severe acute malnutrition (PRONUT study): a double-blind efficacy randomised controlled trial in Malawi”
Authors: M. Kerac, J. Bunn, A. Seal, et al.