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Nourishing a child’s holistic advantage

By: Sarabeth De Castro, MD, FPPS, DPSPGHAN

4 mins to read Sep 26, 2023

We all aspire for our children to have an amazing future where they are able to fulfill their dreams and be the best person they can be. As parents, our role is to nourish them in every way to help unlock these possibilities – supporting all the important areas of their development:  immunity, allergy prevention, brain development, growth and digestion. Let us take a look at the nutritive components that are of great importance to give each child a holistic advantage.

At birth, the immune system is not fully developed. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and probiotics play a significant role in fighting off infection early in life. HMOs are the third largest component of human milk which offers multiple benefits. They influence maturation of cells involved to fight off infection and promote a balanced response against microbes that is critical for a healthy immune response. HMOs are also known to prevent the adhesion of harmful bacteria in the gut.1 A specific unique blend of 5-HMOs (2’-fucosyllactose, Difucosyllactose, Lacto-N-tetraose, 3’-sialyllactose and 6’-sialyllactose) supports the development of a healthy gut barrier.2

Another nutrient that is of advantage in providing immune benefits is the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis (Bb12). It enhances antibody response by limiting infection and colonization of bacteria and viruses in the gut.3,4

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The gastrointestinal tract is the largest interface that is in contact with the external environment. It is an area where microbes reside and where majority of the immune cells are located. The gut microbiota contributes to many functions but beyond digestion and fermentation of food, it is also essential as the first line of defense against pathogens.5 HMOs as prebiotic help promote growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. The unique 5-HMO blend influences the gut microbiome leading to a more desired gut environment with enhanced growth of bifidobacteria, particularly B. infantis and decreased harmful Clostridioides defficile2 to help support digestive health. 

A key factor affecting child’s growth is a developed gut microbiome. With the effect of HMOs in establishing gut microbiota, it was also linked to support growth. A unique 5-HMO blend was found to support age-appropriate growth6 while sialylated HMOs, 3’-SL and 6’-SL, were found to reduce cortical porosity and increase mineralization7 to help strengthen the bones of children.

HMOs may also participate in gut-brain connection. Evidences have shown its role in modulating brain and cognitive development.8 Among these HMOs, 10-30% of oligosaccharides are sialylated and majority are sialyllactose. Sialylated HMOs supply sialic acid to support brain development and an essential building block for neurons. Studies have also shown how HMOs can improve cognitive development (6’SL), as well as language functions (3’SL).9,10

Allergies can hinder children from exploring the world around them, may it be through food or environment.  Allergic diseases can occur when the immune system reacts with a foreign substance. To prevent allergic manifestations, most approaches use nutritional intervention, such as intake of Partially Hydrolyzed Whey. This was demonstrated in the German Infant Nutritional Intervention (GINI) study wherein early intervention with partially hydrolyzed whey resulted in preventive effects on asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema up to adolescence.11

Nutrition plays a significant role in the future health of a child. Nourish every aspect of a child’s development with clinically proven nutrients to unlock their infinite possibilities.


  • 1.    Bode L. The functional biology of human milk oligosaccharides. Early Hum Dev 2015
    2.    Bosheva M, et al. Infant formula with a specific blend of Five Human milk Oligosaccharides Drives the Gut Microbiota Development and Improves Gut Marutation Markers: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Front. Nutr. 2022;9:920362
    3.    Holscher H, et al. Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 Enhances intestinal antibody response in formula-fed infants: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition 2012;36:1
    4.    Yi, D.Y.; Kim, S.Y. Human Breast Milk Composition and Function in Human Health: From Nutritional Components to Microbiome and MicroRNAs. Nutrients 2021;13:3094
    5.    Takiishi T, et al. Intestinal barrier and gut microbiota: Shaping our immune responses throughout life. Tissue Barriers 2017;5:4
    6.    Bauer V, et al. Term infant formula supplemented with a unique blend of five human milk oligosaccharides supports age-appropriate growth, is safe and well-tolerated. A double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Pediatric Academic Societies Conference, 2021 
    7.    Bonnet N, et al. Preclinical supplementation of Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) during early life positively impacts long-term bone quality. ASBMR Annual Meeting, 2020
    8.    Berger et al. Human milk oligosaccharides 2’-fucosyllactose links feedings at 1 month to cognitive development at 24 months in infants with normal and overweight mothers. Plos ONE 2020;15 :2 
    9.    Oliveros E, et al. Human Milk Levels of 2’-Fucosyllactose and 6’-Sialyllactose are Positively Associated with Infant Neurodevelopment and are not Impacted by Maternal BMI or Diabetic Status. J Nutr Food Sci. 2021;4:024 
    10.    Cho S, et al. Human milk 3’-Sialyllactose is positively associated with language development during infancy. Am J Clin Nutr 2021;114:588-597
    11.    Gappa M., et al. Long-term effects of hydrolyzed formulae on atopic diseases in the GINI study. Allergy 2020;00:1-5