In protecting the microbiome, prebiotics indirectly help to guard the function of the intestine and immune system. The microbiome protects the part of the intestine where infections commonly happen, causing problems such as diarrhea and gas. Furthermore, treatment with antibiotics doesn’t just kill bad bacteria – it has been reported to kill the good ones, causing problems such as antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD) .
The intestine also becomes prone to damage and nutrient losses. These, in turn, slow down growth and make the immune system more prone to infections.
In a research review of clinical reports involving children 0-24 months of age, the investigators demonstrated a 68% decrease in the number of infectious episodes needing antibiotic therapy following prebiotic use, compared to a placebo (blank) group .
Another research study has demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation to toddler milk led to a moderately reduced the risk of getting at least one respiratory infection, with lower rates of infection (8%) and total number of infectious episodes (12%), compared to control milk .
There is also evidence of a reduction in allergic conditions, as outlined in a review of 22 research studies. Children given prebiotics, typically as a formula, and usually including the prebiotic oligosaccharide, GOS, showed a reduction in the risk of asthma (11%), eczema (6%) and food allergies (12%) compared to placebo (blank) groups.