"The beneficial bacteria that live in a baby's intestine are all-important to an infant's health, growth, and ability to fight off infections," said Kelly Tappenden, a U of I professor of nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology. "Breast-fed babies acquire this protection naturally. Formula-fed infants get sick more easily because the bacteria in their gut are always changing."
The idea is to make formula more like breast milk by promoting the sorts of intestinal bacteria that live in breast-fed babies' intestines, she added.
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that resist digestion by human enzymes and stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics are actual live bacteria that are beneficial to intestinal health, she said.
Infants have a special need for stimulation of their gut microbiota because they are born with a sterile intestine, Tappenden said.
"A strong, robust population of microbes in the gut provides colonization resistance, and pathogens can't invade and infect an infant who has that resistance as easily," she added.
The researchers compared the effects of feeding pre- and probiotics with infants fed breast milk and control formulas. They also compared the enhanced formulas' effects in both vaginally and Caesarean-delivered babies.
"The probiotic formula significantly enhanced immunity in formula-fed infants," Tappenden said.
Also, babies delivered by C-section had an especially improved immune response, an important finding because C-section babies are a more vulnerable group, she said.
Why? "Babies delivered naturally are exposed to the mother's bacteria as they travel through the birth canal, and they develop a healthier population of gut bacteria as a result. Babies delivered by C-section enter a sterile environment, and their gut microbiota is quite different," Tappenden noted.
In the probiotics study, scientists at five sites divided 172 healthy six-week-old infants into two formula-fed groups and a breast-fed group. Beginning at six weeks of age, the formula-fed groups received either a control formula or a formula that contained the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis (Bb12) for a six-week period. The infants receiving the probiotic formula had increased concentrations of secretory, anti-rotavirus, and anti-poliovirus-specific immunoglobulin A (IgA).
Fecal samples from babies receiving the probiotic formula revealed significantly heightened immunity, especially among Caesarian-delivered infants, Tappenden said
Infants who consumed the formula containing the prebiotic ingredients also benefited. In that study, 139 healthy babies were divided into three groups. Breast-fed infants were compared with babies fed either a control formula or a formula supplemented with galacto- and fructo-oligosaccharides for six weeks.
Oligosaccharides, found in breast milk, contribute to the healthy population of bacteria found in the guts of breast-fed infants.
When fecal samples were tested, babies fed the prebiotic formula showed modest improvement in the number of beneficial bacteria and decreases in the types of bacteria that are often associated with illness.
Both articles were published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition. Co-authors of the probiotics paper are Hannah D. Holscher of the U of I, Laura A. Czerkies, Pamela Cekola, and José M. Saavedra of Nestlé Infant Nutrition; Richard Litov of Pedia Research.; Marshall Benbow of Southwest Children's Research Associates, San Antonio, Texas; Sheryl Santema of Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas; Dominik D. Alexander and Vanessa Perez of Exponent, Inc., Health Sciences Practice, Chicago; and Shumei Sun of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Co-authors of the prebiotics paper are Hannah D. Holscher and Kristin L. Faust of the U of I; Laura A. Czerkies of Nestlé Infant Nutrition; Richard Litov of Pedia Research; Ekhard D. Ziegler of the University of Iowa; Herschel Lessin of The Children's Medical Group in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Terry Hatch of Carle Clinic in Urbana, Ill.; and Shumei Sun of Virginia Commonwealth University. Funding for both studies was provided by Nestlé Infant Nutrition.
Phyllis Picklesimer | EurekAlert!
A whole-body approach to understanding chemosensory cells
13.12.2017 | Tokyo Institute of Technology
Research reveals how diabetes in pregnancy affects baby's heart
13.12.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
13.12.2017 | Health and Medicine
13.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
13.12.2017 | Life Sciences