Revista Paulista de Pediatria
Print version ISSN 0103-0582
MILLANI, Elisabete; KONSTANTYNER, Tulio and TADDEI, José Augusto de A. C.. Effects of prebiotics (oligosaccharides) use on child's health. Rev. paul. pediatr. [online]. 2009, vol.27, n.4, pp. 436-446. ISSN 0103-0582. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0103-05822009000400014.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the use of prebiotics (oligosaccharides) in child health, their applications and possible mechanisms of action. DATA SOURCE: The articles for this review were electronically selected from the Biblioteca Regional de Medicina (Bireme) virtual library database, which includes Lilacs, Medline and SciELO databases. Search included articles on the subject from 1998 to 2008 comprising children up to 12 years old. DATA SYNTHESIS: The prebiotic oligosaccharides in food products provided beneficial effects that included increase in total number of bifidobacteria, reduction in the number of pathogenic intestinal microorganisms; improvement of excrement consistency and in the frequency of evacuations These effects suggest their recommendation for constipated children. Beneficial results were verified in several studies concerning the reduction of allergies development, respiratory infections, fever, irritability, flatulence, diarrhea, regurgitation, vomits, colic, cry and use of antibiotics, with improvement of fermentation characteristics of fatty acids and fecal pH. Nevertheless, the number of studies found indicates the need for further investigation. Studies on calcium absorption were contradictory. Concerning tolerance, it is impossible to verify the safety of these products due to the use of diverse quantities of supplement for children from different age ranges and clinical characteristics CONCLUSIONS: Although prebiotics seem promising and provide beneficial effects in certain situations, they deserve further investigation to evaluate their actual efficacy and safety on immediate and long term conditions, in order to confirm the absence of harmful consequences for children's health.
Keywords : oligosaccharides; child health (public health); dietary supplements; food security.