Abbott launches first infant formula in Canada with ingredient identical to immune component in breast milk

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Similac Pro-Advance infant formula with a 2'-Fucosyllactose Oligosaccharide (2'-FL) not derived from breast milk is the first product of its kind in Canada. Pic: Getty Images/kitthanes
Similac Pro-Advance infant formula with a 2'-Fucosyllactose Oligosaccharide (2'-FL) not derived from breast milk is the first product of its kind in Canada. Pic: Getty Images/kitthanes

Related tags: Infant formula, HMOs, HMO, 2'FL, Abbott, Abbott Nutrition, Canada

Abbott has launched Similac Pro-Advance with a 2'-Fucosyllactose Oligosaccharide (2'-FL) not derived from breast milk, making it the first product in Canada with the ingredient in infant formula.

It will be available in all major retailers across Canada.

Breast milk is considered the gold standard to feed an infant, and the company said research shows breastfed babies tend to have stronger immune systems compared to those who are fed formula. This is due in part to the many immune components found in breast milk, including the protective qualities of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).

HMOs are the third most abundant solid component of breast milk after fat and carbohydrates (lactose), and research has shown they play a fundamental role in a baby's digestive health and immunity. One of the best-known functions of HMOs is that they act as prebiotics, nourishing the good bacteria in the baby's gut. 2'-FL is the most abundant HMO found in the breast milk of most mothers.

For some parents, breast milk is not always available or chosen. And, for babies who are not exclusively breastfed, infant formula is the only suitable and safe alternative.

"Parents want to know that their child is getting the nutrition they need, and breastfeeding is known to have many health benefits,"​ says Nishta Saxena, a registered dietician and nutritionist of her own practice, Vibrant Nutrition.

"Parents who use formula can feel more confident, knowing that the inclusion of 2'-FL in infant formula was inspired by an immune component found in human milk."

Rachael Buck, Ph.D., research fellow at Abbott said, "At Abbott, we know that breast milk provides protective components a baby needs to thrive. That's why we have spent more than 20 years researching HMOs and their impact on immune and gut health so that we can understand the role they play in supporting the development of a baby's immune system during the critical first years of their life. We wanted to replicate 2'-FL found in breast milk so that more babies could possibly benefit."

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition​ studied more than 200 babies to compare the differences between breastfed babies and those fed formula with or without the 2'-FL not derived from breast milk. The peer-reviewed study found formula-fed babies had five gaps in immune markers compared to the breastfed group. When babies were fed formula with the 2'-FL not derived from breast milk, these measures of immune function were more like those seen in the breastfed reference group.

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