Objectives: This study aims to establish the baseline profile of intestinal microbiota in pre-school and school-age Japanese children and to investigate the effects of a probiotic on the microbiota. Methods: We analyzed the intestinal microbiota and investigated the effects (before, during and after the ingestion period) on intestinal microbiota and the environment of 6 months of daily ingestion of a probiotic (Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS)-fermented milk). Results: We performed an open trial in 23 children (14 boys, 9 girls; age 7.7 ± 2.4 years (mean ± SD); BMI 19.6 ± 4.6). The composition of intestinal microbiota of healthy pre-school and school-age children resembled that of adults. During probiotic supplementation, the population levels of Bifidobacterium and total Lactobacillus increased significantly, while those of Enterobacteriaceae, Staphylococcus and Clostridium perfringens decreased significantly. A significant increase in fecal concentrations of organic acids and also a decrease in fecal pH were observed during the ingestion period. However, the patterns of fecal microbiota and intestinal environment were found to revert to the baseline levels (i.e. before ingestion) within 6 months following the cessation of probiotic intake. Conclusion: Regular intake of an LcS-containing probiotic product may modify the gut microbiota composition and intestinal environment in pre-school and school-age children while maintaining the homeostasis of the microbiota.

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