Results of a randomized clinical trial with three- and four-olds indicate that follow-up formula containing a combination of DHA, prebiotics, and yeast beta-glucan may support the immune systems of the children.
Writing in the June issue of Pediatrics , the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, scientists from Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine in China and Mead Johnson Nutrition report that three servings per day of the follow-up formula for 28 weeks were associated with few episodes and shorter duration of acute respiratory infections than children consuming an unfortified cow’s milk-based beverage.
In addition, the formula-fed children also required fewer antibiotic treatments and missed fewer days of day care due to illness, compared to children in the control group.
Blood analysis revealed that interleukin-10 and white blood cell (WBC) counts were higher in the follow-up formula group after 28 weeks, suggesting an anti-inflammatory mechanism and/or an increase of effector immune cells.
The research was welcomed by Donald Cox, PhD, senior VP of healthcare research & development at Biothera, the manufacturer of the beta-glucan ingredient used in the formula (Wellmune WGP). “As the study’s authors noted, children are vulnerable to diet inadequacies, which may affect immune function,” said Dr Cox.
“This research demonstrates the importance of supporting the developing immune systems of young children.”
Wellmune WGP, derived from the cell walls of a proprietary strain of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) via a patented manufacturing process, is a natural carbohydrate that activates key immune cells. The formula also contained the omega-3 DHA and a blend of the prebiotics polydextrose (PDX) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS). The follow-up formula used in this study is not a marketed product at this time.
Led by Fei Li, MD, PhD, the researchers recruited 3-4 year old children to participate in their double-blind, randomized, controlled, prospective trial. Children were randomly assigned to either the follow-up formula group (25 mg DHA, 1.2 g PDX/GOS, and 8.7 mg yeast beta-glucan three times per day) or an unfortified, cow’s milk-based beverage (control).
Results indicated that significant benefits for the formula-fed children, with statistically significant reductions in episodes and shorter duration of acute respiratory infections, as well as requiring fewer antibiotic treatments.
The study is in line with other findings from Mead Johnson, including a study from Brazil which indicated that the follow-up formula may also alleviate functional constipation in children (The FASEB Journal , 2014, Vol. 28, Supplement LB348).
2014. Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3598
“Follow-up Formula Consumption in 3- to 4-Year-Olds and Respiratory Infections: An RCT”
Authors: F. Li, X. Jin, B. Liu, W. Zhuang, D. Scalabrin