Does enriched follow-up formula ward off acute respiratory infection?

August 1, 2014

A study conducted in 264 3- to 4-year-old children who were attending daycare in China found that those who drank an experimental follow-up formula (FUF) had fewer and shorter episodes of acute respiratory infection (ARI) than children who consumed an unfortified cow’s milk-based beverage.

 

A study conducted in 264 3- to 4-year-old children who were attending daycare in China found that those who drank an experimental follow-up formula (FUF) had fewer and shorter episodes of acute respiratory infection (ARI) than children who consumed an unfortified cow’s milk-based beverage.

The FUF, which half the children in the randomized trial consumed, was enriched with 25 mg of docosahexaenoic acid, which has been associated with improved immune outcomes and reduced incidence of respiratory infections; 1.2 g blend of probiotics polydextrose and galacto-oligosaccharides; and 8.7 mg of yeast beta-glucan, which has immunomodulatory properties. The other half of the children had a nonenriched cow’s milk-based beverage. Both groups consumed the products 3 times a day for 28 weeks. At the end of the study period, investigators assessed immune markers from fecal and blood samples and determined incidence of ARI, diarrheal disease, and antibiotic treatment.

Children who received the FUF were less likely to develop an ARI than those who had the nonenriched beverage, and such episodes lasted for a shorter time. As a result, fewer children in the FUF group were treated with systemic antibiotics and missed fewer days of daycare because of illness. Interleukin-10 and white blood cells increased in the children who consumed the FUF, suggesting an anti-inflammatory mechanism or an increase of effector immune cells. Neither group experienced diarrheal disease, and levels of hemoglobin, serum ferritin and zinc, and fecal secretory immunoglobulin A did not differ between the 2 groups (Li F, et al. Pediatrics. 2014;133[6]:e1533-e1540).

MS FREEDMAN is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. DR BURKE, section editor for Journal Club, is chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. The editors have nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.