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27th Oct 2016

BREAKTHROUGH: Scientists Have Invented A Formula With Breast Milk Benefits

Katie Mythen-Lynch

A research lab has invented a baby formula it says is the closest thing to breast milk yet. 

Abbott Labs have added a form of human milk oligosaccharides (2′-FL HMO), a prebiotic found naturally in breast milk, to infant formula for the first time and tests show it could give bottle-fed babies the immune boost that breastfeeding ensures.

The Journal of Nutrition study showed that babies fed Abbott’s 2′-FL formula had levels of immune system markers that were nearly identical to breastfed babies.

“We wanted to replicate HMOs so that babies who drink formula can benefit from them,” said study author Rachael Buck, Ph.D., associate research fellow and immunology expert at Abbott.

“This latest research has led us to our biggest scientific breakthrough in infant formula in nearly a decade – the ability to nourish formula-fed babies with 2′-FL HMO.

“While it doesn’t mean babies won’t experience the normal illnesses that come with childhood, these data clearly show that formula with 2′-FL HMO can help strengthen babies’ immune systems to be more like breastfed babies.”

So what exactly is 2′-FL HMO?

About 80 percent of mothers make 2′-FL in their breast milk. Excluding water, HMOs are the third most abundant ingredient in breast milk after fat and carbohydrates. They help encourage and feed good bacteria in your baby’s gut.

While the company acknowledges that breast milk is best, for many mums, breastfeeding is not always an option. Abbott hope that by adding HMOs to their Similac milk, they can begin to narrow the gap between breast milk and formula.

The Department of Health and Children recommends that, where possible, mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months and after that combine breastfeeding with solid foods until two years old or older.