Infant formula supplemented with milk-derived oligosaccharides (MOS) shifts gut microbiota closer to that of human-milk-fed infants and improves intestinal immune defence, a study by Nestlé and NIZO has found. In this challenging project, NIZO supported Nestlé by carrying out all lab work and microbiota profiling, and providing expert interpretation and insight.
While ‘breast is best’, infant formula offers a healthy alternative where needed. Importantly, studies show that health outcomes of breastfed infants are better compared to formula-fed infants1. Therefore, finding ways to improve infant formula, and ideally bring it closer to human breast milk nutrition, is thus a priority for manufacturers.
There is increasing evidence that the oligosaccharides in breast milk play multiple roles in infant health and well-being. They help balance gut microbiota, enhance the infant’s immune system, and may support brain development. However, most infant formulas do not contain these human oligosaccharides.