Historically, bifidobacteria were the dominant intestinal bacteria in breastfed infants. Still abundant in infants in developing nations, levels of intestinal bifidobacteria are low among infants in developed nations. Recent studies have described an intimate relationship between human milk and a specific subspecies of Bifidobacterium, B. longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis), yet supplementation of breastfed, healthy, term infants with this organism, has not been reported. The IMPRINT Study, a Phase I clinical trial, was initiated to determine the safety and tolerability of supplementing breastfed infants with B. infantis (EVC001).
Eighty mother-infant dyads were enrolled in either lactation support plus B. infantis supplementation (BiLS) or lactation support alone (LS). Starting with Day 7 postnatal, BiLS infants were fed 1.8-2.8 × 10(10) CFU B. infantis EVC001 daily in breast milk for 21 days. Mothers collected fecal samples, filled out health questionnaires, and kept daily logs about their infants' feeding and gastrointestinal symptoms from birth until Day 61 postnatal. Safety and tolerability were determined from maternal reports.
There were no differences in the mean gestational age at birth, weight 1 and 2 months postnatal, and breast milk intake between groups. The mean Log10 change in fecal Bifidobacterium from Day 6 to Day 28 was higher (p = 0.0002) for BiLS (6.6 ± 2.8 SD) than for LS infants (3.5 ± 3.5 SD). Daily stool number was higher (p < 0.005) for LS and lower (p < 0.05) for BiLS infants during supplementation than at Baseline. During supplementation, watery stools decreased and soft stools increased by 36% over baseline in BiLS infants (p < 0.05) with no significant changes in stool consistency for the LS infants. None of the safety and tolerability endpoints, including flatulence, bloody stool, body temperature, ratings of gastrointestinal symptoms, use of antibiotics or gas-relieving medications, infant colic, jaundice, number of illnesses, sick doctor visits, or diagnoses of eczema were different for the groups at any point.
The B. infantis EVC001 supplement was safely consumed and well-tolerated. Stools were fewer and better formed in infants in the BiLS group compared with LS group. Adverse events were those expected in healthy infants and not different between groups.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02457338 . Registered May 27, 2015.