Benefits of Fructooligosaccharides in formula fed infants
When breastfeeding is impossible, it is essential to use infant and follow-on formulae, and their formulations are continuously improved as breast milk composition and its impact on infants’ health are progressively discovered. In order to mimic the part of non-digestible oligosaccharides present in breast milk that could influence development of the intestinal microbiota early in life, prebiotic ingredients, like scFOSs from sucrose, can be added to infant formulae. This review aims to summarize the latest scientific findings about using scFOSs from sucrose in infant and follow-on formulae, with a focus on their effects on intestinal bifidobacteria and the modulation of specific immune responses. The regulatory status of such use is described in a second part.
Human breast milk contains both digestible (mostly lactose) and non-digestible carbohydrates. Non-digestible carbohydrates are oligosaccharides with a degree of polymerisation (DP) between 3 and 10. Their concentration about 20g/L in colostrum regularly declines during lactation but remains above 4g/L (1). More than 200 different types of oligosaccharides have been identified in breast milk; and most of them are not digested in babies’ small intestine. They reach the large intestine where they can be substrates for bacteria populations.
Therefore, experts from the Scientific Committee for Food (SCF) reported in 2003 that “non-digestible oligosaccharides may be added to formulae for a technological reason or as a source of fermentable substrates for the gut microflora” (2).
INTEREST OF scFOSs IN INFANT FORMULAE
Accordingly to the definition of prebiotic (3), short chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOSs) from sucrose are not digested in the small intestine (4), but they reach the colon where they are selectively fermented by its microbiota. The first studies about their effects on the intestinal m ...