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Infant formula ingredients help boost babies immunity

Formula versus breastfeeding is a common debate.  The majority of the research shows the superior health benefit to the baby when breast fed.  But there are times when breast feeding is not an option for whatever reason.

One of the health benefits that breast feeding has always had over formula is the presence of oligosaccharides, which contribute to the healthy population of bacteria in the babies gut.  This healthy concentration of bacteria is a major factor in the babies immune system. In this study they added probiotics, which are live bacteria, to the formula.  They also added prebiotics, which are carbohydrates which stimulate the beneficial bacterial growth.  Significantly elevated immune levels were found in the probiotic enriched formula with a more modest improvement in the prebiotic group.

Source: Science Daily  Photo: Imbuga CC-BY-SA-2.0

On a side note although this is a recent study, there have been other formula manufacturers who have added probiotics into their formula.  Parents need to be aware of a couple of things.  First of all there have been many recent scares of life threatening bacteria in some formulas, specifically the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii (Enterobacter sakazakii).  An estimated 40% of these bacterial infections end in death, making this a very serious issue.  The World Health Organization recommends heating a formula mix to a minimum of 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit).  The FDA is more specific noting water should be boiled for one minute, then cooled and mixed with the powdered formula at 70 degrees Celsius (FDA).

The issue is that at that high temperature the probiotics will be destroyed.  The simple solution is to purchase the formula and the probiotics separately.  You can buy the probiotics/prebiotics in single serve packets, this way you can heat the formula properly and let the bottle cool to 40 degrees Celsius which is what is recommended for the probiotics to survive, then you can add the probiotics to the formula.

Remember to make sure the formula is not too hot, it should be lukewarm to your inner wrist.  The temperature of 70 degrees Celsius is what temperature the water should be mixed with the formula, not the temperature for the baby to drink it, make sure you allow additional cooling time after mixing.  According to the Mayo Clinic feeding with lukewarm, room temperature or even cool/cold temperatures is acceptable as long as the water was first sterilized by boiling, then cooled down.  Mayo Clinic


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