August 1, 2008

Echo Health – The Right Formula

By Barry Nelson

Q If I started feeding my baby formula milk with added prebiotics, is she less likely to develop allergies?

A John Collard, clinical director of Allergy UK, says: ?Breast milk contains the correct balance of ingredients to give a new baby the best chance of a healthy start to life, reducing the risk of some allergies and infections. The right balance of bacteria in the baby?s gut has a beneficial effect on the development of the immune system.

?Although formula feeds are carefully designed to provide the best possible alternative to breast milk, a bottle-fed baby doesn?t develop the same balance of bacteria in the gut, and it?s this different gut flora that?s thought to make allergies and infections more likely.

?Giving probiotics attempts to restore the healthy balance of bacteria in bottle-fed babies. Some trials have shown that this can reduce allergic disease, but the results haven?t always been consistent.

?It?s the presence of certain carbohydrates in breast milk (oligosaccharides known as GOS and FOS) which naturally produce the correct balance of bacteria in the gut. Studies have now shown that adding these substances (prebiotics) to formula feeds can produce a balance of bacteria in the gut which is very similar to that found in breastfed babies, and which seems to offer a similar level of protection from allergy and infection.

?Breast is still best, but adding GOS and FOS to bottle feeds may close the gap to some extent. ?

(c) 2008 Northern Echo. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.