Infant Formula


  1. What is an infant milk formula?
Formula milk is an artificial substitute for breast milk. It is altered to mimic human milk but it is still inferior to breast milk in terms of constituents. Breast milk is still considered the gold standard and there has been constant effort to further enhance the constituent and nutrition in the formula milk to be close as possible to breast milk. In USA, infant milk formula is regulated under the FDA (Food and Drug Administration
2.        Why do I need to know about formula milk?
Breast feeding is no doubt the BEST for your baby. As medical professionals, we are fully supportive of breast feeding and recommend that you breast feed your baby as long as possible because of the benefits for you and your baby.
However, there are some circumstances, breast feeding may not be appropriate and may be best avoided:

a)If you have infectious diseases such as HIV infection (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), active tuberculosis, viral hepatitis, chicken pox etc.

b)If you are taking some medications which can pass through breast milk to your baby, for example chemotherapy or anti-cancer medications.

c)If you do not have enough breast milk to meet the demands of your baby / babies e.g if you have twins or triplets.

d)During the first three days post partum when the breast milk is still small in quantity

3. What are the different types of infant milk formula?

a) Cow milk’s formula: This is cow’s milk altered to resemble human milk and is most commonly available.
b) Soy milk’s formula: An option for babies who are allergic to cow’s milk. However, some babies who are allergic to cow’s milk are allergic to soya milk as well.
c) Protein hydrosylate formula: This formula may be considered in babies who have a family history of allergies to cow or soya milk product. It is also known as hypoallergenic formulas.
d) Specialized formula:
i)For premature babies which is higher in calories for catch up growth for the premature babies.
ii)Formula fortified with iron and enhanced with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), arachidonic acid (ARA) and SA. This is important for the baby’s eyesight and brain development.
ii)Formula fortified with pre and probiotics which confers some benefit in preventing the development of allergy and gastroenteritis.

            4. Which infant milk formula should I choose?

Do your research first. Analyze the more common brands available in the market and what are the benefits of each different formula. Ask your doctor regarding an infant formula that is fortified with all the important ingredients such as DHA, AA, SA, prebiotics and probiotics.

            5. What are some of the new advances in the ingredient of infant formula?

i) Nucleotides are compounds involved in many biochemical and biological process. It is important in supporting the immune system by acting as a natural defence against bacterias and viruses. It plays an important role in stimulating the development of the guts cells, creating positive environment for the growth of beneficial bacterial flora. Nucleotides are building blocks of DNA & RNA which are important for growth and development.

ii) Prebiotics are important ingredient which supports the growth and activity of natural good bacterias (probiotics) in the guts. The effect of prebiotics further enhances the benefit of probiotics and provides synergestic effect on the gut.

iii) Probiotics are good bacterias which live in our guts and confer benefit to our health. They play an important role in digestion and immunity. They help to improve and maintain a healthy balance of the gastrointestinal flora. In addition, they inhibit bad bacterias, fungus and viruses without interfering with the natural existing bacteria in the gut. Studies have shown that some probiotics such as Lactobacillus paracasei or Bifidobacterium lactis have beneficial effect on the immune system by stimulating the production of immune competent cells of the gut. They also influence the development of the gut tissues for efficient absorption of nutrients.

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