Long-term consumption of infant formulas containing live probiotic bacteria: Tolerance and safety

Jose M. Saavedra, Adel Abi-Hanna, Nancy Moore, Robert H. Yolken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Background: Nonpathogenic live bacteria are consumed as food by many children, particularly in the form of yogurt. The tolerance and safety of long-term consumption of specific types and strains of probiotic bacteria are not well documented. Objective: The goal was to evaluate tolerance to formulas containing 2 levels of probiotic supplementation and effects on growth, general clinical status, and intestinal health in free-living healthy infants. Design: This was a prospective, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of healthy infants aged 3-24 mo. Infants were assigned to receive a standard milk-based formula containing 1 × 107 colony-forming units (CFU)/g each of Bifidobacterium lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus, formula containing 1 × 106 CFU/g each of B. lactis and S. thermophilus, or unsupplemented formula. Clinical outcomes included formula intake, gastrointestinal tolerance, anthropometric measures, daycare attendance, and history of illness. Results: One hundred eighteen infants aged (x̄ ± SD) 7.0 ± 2.9 mo at enrollment consumed formula for 210 ± 127 d. There were no significant differences in age, sex, formula consumption, or length of study between groups. The supplemented formulas were well accepted and were associated with a lower frequency of reported colic or irritability (P < 0.001) and a lower frequency of antibiotic use (P < 0.001) than was the unsupplemented formula. There were no significant differences between groups in growth, health care attention seeking, daycare absenteeism, or other health variables. Conclusion: Long-term consumption of formulas supplemented with B. lactis and S. thermophilus was well tolerated and safe and resulted in adequate growth, reduced reporting of colic or irritability, and a lower frequency of antibiotic use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-267
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Growth
  • Infant formula
  • Infants
  • Probiotics
  • Tolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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