Breastfed babies are less often ill than bottle-fed babies. A Wageningen student did PhD research for the infant formula manufacturer Numico on a mixture of indigestible sugars that should make the differences between bottle feed and breast milk smaller.
The researcher gave mothers with newborn babies ordinary infant formula or milk with added oligosaccharides. She then examined the faeces of the babies for the first sixteen weeks of their lives. As a control she examined the faeces of breast-fed babies. In terms of beneficial bacteria, the sugar chains work well, according to her results. ‘The gut flora of breast-fed babies is dominated by bifid bacteria and lactobacilli. The increase of bacteria in babies that only receive bottle feed is slower. The amount and activity of beneficial bacteria in the babies that received extra indigestible sugar chains approached the levels found in breast-fed babies.’
The formula mixture that Bakker-Zierikzee examined is already on the market. It is in Numico’s Omneo and was recently also added to Nutrilon. / WK
Astrid Bakker-Zierikzee will receive her PhD on 19 January. Her promoters are Professor Frans Kok, chair of Nutrition and Health, and Professor Jacques Bindels, chair of Nutrition during Growth and Development.