A new study has revealed that InFat - a vegetable-based fat for infant formula with a similar structure to breast milk - provides beneficial effects for the health and well-being of formula-fed infants.
InFat a joint venture between vegetable oil refiners AAK and biotech firm Enzymotec mimics breast milk's high beta-palmitate content, which enables optimised uptake of calcium and energy, as well as easy digestion.
Research published in last month's Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition stated that a double-blind, randomised, multicentre study saw a significant increase in the probiotics lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, shifting the bacterial flora composition to be more comparable to breast-fed infants.
This study was conducted at the Israeli neonatology departments of Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa and Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
Explore InFat's effect
The aim of the study sponsored by Enzymotec was to explore InFat's effect on the intestinal flora of full-term infants. The clinical trial included 36 infants 14 breast-fed and 22 formula-fed who were randomly assigned to receive either formula that contained InFat (high beta-palmitate) or a control formula (standard vegetable oil mix) that did not contain any pre- or probiotics.
Stool samples were collected at enrolment and at six weeks postnatal for the quantification of different bacteria in the gut flora. "This trial indicates that InFat can significantly improve infant formula, making it closer to mother's milk in terms of infants' flora composition," said Yael Lifshitz, director of research and development at Enzymotec Infant Nutrition.
"Studying the effect of InFat on infant gut microbiota is innovative and further positions InFat as the standard fat blend in premium infant formula," added Tzafra Cohen, chief executive of Advanced Lipids, the joint venture that markets the product.
"This new publication further strengthens InFat's leading position in the market, with numerous benefits associated with its consumption."
Recently, InFat has also been shown to benefit bone strength parameters in full-term infants after 12 weeks of feeding.
Latest UK figures show that only half of the 91% mothers in the UK who start breastfeeding continue past six weeks. The UK infant formula market is valued at £270M.