Improving gut health is essential for children’s immune system to be better prepared in fighting off illnesses[i] and infections since 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. The first step to strengthen gut health is by understanding the gut microbiome – this consists of trillions of microorganisms in the intestine that communicate with our organs and immune system, impacting our overall health.
Some bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live within our gut protect us against harmful germs and help break down non-digestible substrates such as dietary fibers to support the growth of specialist microbes which can affect health outcomes[ii].
The formation of a healthy microbiome begins very early on. Developing a healthy gut begins after birth, where children would inherit these gut microbiotas from their parents[iii].
As children grow, the importance of gut health needs to be recognized to ensure proper development and lifelong health. Maintaining a healthy gut environment for the microbiota to develop is crucial in the early years of life, helping young children to build a strong digestive and immune system.
What is the key to unlocking a healthy gut microbiome? Nutrition.
When gut bacteria are properly nourished, they can grow, diversify and multiply – all of which help to strengthen children’s immune systems, which will positively impact their growth and cognitive development.
Breakthroughs in HMO science
Abbott scientists have been constantly studying the impact of the microbiome on children’s immune system for decades, leading to various innovations such as our research on human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).
HMO is a major component of human-produced milk which is found to contribute to the development of the child’s immune system[iv].
In 2005, Abbott conducted its first clinical study on a formula with HMO. After numerous studies through the years, Abbott made a breakthrough by introducing Similac GainSchool as the first milk formula with 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) HMO, which was launched in the Philippines in 2018. 2’-FL is by far the most prevalent HMO found in nature, and extensive studies have shown 2’-FL positively impacts child immunity.
For parents who choose to use formula milk, Abbott’s commitment to scientific-forward nutrition continues. Today, the newly reformulated Similac GainSchool is the world’s first formula that contains an exclusive blend of the five most abundant HMOs, representing ~60% of total HMOs in nature to improve children’s immunity. It helps strengthen children’s defenses against infection. For example, 2’-FL found in Similac GainSchool is associated with 66% lower respiratory infections[v]. This next generation of Similac GainSchool also contains added gangliosides – complex lipids naturally found in the brain – and other essential nutrients for stronger, faster, and more efficient brain connections[vi],[vii],[viii].
Nurturing your child’s potential
With the world slowly opening up, parents want nothing more than to see their children grow to be stronger, smarter, and healthier than ever, especially now that children are back in school and outdoors again. While best hygiene practices such as mask-wearing, hand-washing and physical distancing can give our children protection – let’s not forget that the best-kept secret in preventing illness and boosting the immune system is in nourishing the gut microbiome: Proper nutrition.
The new reformulated Similac GainSchool is a product of Abbott’s commitment in keeping children healthy through proper nutrition. By providing solutions that give stronger immunity, better cognition and faster brain connections, together, we can help children grow and thrive in a new world where they can live their best lives through good health.
[ii] Valdes A, Walter J, Segal E, Spector T. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. Brit Med Jour [Internet].2018 Jun 13; 361:k2719. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2179.
[iv] Plaza-Diaz J, Fontana L, Gil A. Human Milk Oligosaccharides and Immune System Development. Nutr. 2018 Aug; 10(8): 1038.
[v] Marriage, B.J.; Buck, R.H.; Goehring, K.C.; Oliver, J.S.; Williams, J.A. Infants fed a lower calorie formula with 2 0FL show growth and 20FL uptake like breast-fed infants. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 2015, 61, 649–658.
[vi] Palmano K, Rowan A, Guillermo R, Guan J, McJarrow P. The Role of Gangliosides in Neurodevelopment. Nutr. 2015 May 22; 7(5):3891-3913.
[vii] Sipione S, Monyror J, Galleguillos D, Steinberg N, Kadam V. Gangliosides in the Brain: Physiology, Pathophysiology and Therapeutic Applications. Front Neurosci [Internet]. 2020 Oct 06 [cited 2022 Dec 1]. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2020.572965/full.
[viii] Gurnida, D, Rowan, A, Idjradinata, P, Muchtadi, T, Sekawarna, N. Association of complex lipids containing gangliosides with cognitive development of 6-month-old infants. Early Hum Dev, 2012 Aug:1-7.