Nutritional support for the infant's immune system

L. Niers, M. Stasse-Wolthuis, F.M. Rombouts, G.T. Rijkers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Newborn babies possess a functional but immature immune system as a defense against a world teeming with microorganisms. Breast milk contains a number of biological, active compounds that support the infant's immune system. These include secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), which confers specific protection against enteric pathogens, as well as numerous other immunological, active ingredients. A number of these ingredients can be used as supplements for infant formulas based on cow's milk. Here, the strength of evidence regarding the immune-stimulating effects of selected minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, pre- and probiotics, and nucleotides is reviewed. An assessment of how these ingredients are used in infant-formula products currently available on the market is also presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-360
JournalNutrition Reviews
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • polyunsaturated fatty-acids
  • formula-fed infants
  • vitamin-a supplementation
  • long-term consumption
  • necrotizing enterocolitis
  • galacto-oligosaccharides
  • fructo-oligosaccharides
  • dietary ribonucleotides
  • infectious-disease
  • controlled-trial


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