by Natasha Longo
June 14, 2013
Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a
certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has
consulted on public health policy and procurement in
Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and
Nestle and Mead Johnson Nutrition recently dismissed
calls to remove
(GMO) from their infant formula products in the US and now evidence
is coming forth on long-term risks related to infant formulations.
Epidemiological research has indicated a
relationship between infant formula feeding and increased risk of
chronic diseases later in life including obesity, type-2 diabetes,
and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers stated that the
comprehensive metabolic implications of formula vs. breast-feeding
play a role in long-term health risks.
Nestle and Mead Johnson Nutrition recently dismissed calls to remove
genetically-modified organisms (GMO) from their infant formula
products in the US, citing the approved use of GMOs by several
national and global regulatory bodies.
According to anti-GMO campaign group,
GMO Inside, these companies "likely" use GMO ingredients such as
soy, corn and sugar in their popular infant formula products.
In the letter, the campaign group urged
Nestle USA's Paul Bulcke, Abbott Laboratories' Miles White,
and Mead Johnson Nutrition's R. Kasper Jakobsen to,
"take a proactive stand and announce
a phase out of all GMOs in your infant formulas in 2013."
"Similac, Enfamil, and Gerber Good
Start - which combined account for more than 90% of all infant
formula sales in the US - are exposing American and Canadian
babies to potentially grave health risks by using genetically
modified ingredients," said a statement accompanying the letter.
Parents who feed their newborn and young
any of Nestle Gerber's product lines are
risking their infant's health by exposure to an abundance
of toxic genetically modified ingredients that the company claims
GMO Inside issued its call
to Nestle USA, Mead Johnson Nutrition and Abbott Laboratories just
days after Abbott Laboratories shareholders voted not to remove GMOs
from the company's Similac infant formula range.
Infant Formula Linked To Chronic Disease
The new data, published in the
Journal of Proteome Research,
suggests that babied fed on formula, rather than breast milk,
experience metabolic stress that play a role in long-recognized
links between formula-feeding and an increased risk of obesity, type
2 diabetes and other conditions in adult life.
Led by Dr Carolyn Slupsky from
the University of California, Davis, USA, the research team used an
infant rhesus monkey model to comprehensively compare the metabolic
implications of formula- and breast-feeding practices by measuring
urinary and blood metabolites in addition to sampling cytokines and
fecal microbial profiles.
"We show that formula-fed infants
are larger than their breast-fed counterparts and have a
different gut microbiome that includes higher levels of bacteria
from the Ruminococcus genus and lower levels of bacteria from
the Lactobacillus genus," explained Slupsky and her colleagues,
...adding that the formula-fed infants
also had higher serum insulin coupled with higher amino acid levels,
while amino acid degradation products were higher in breast-fed
Previous research has shown that babies
fed a dairy-based formula
grow up to have higher blood pressure
than babies who are breast-fed, British researchers reported.
Babies fed enriched bottle milk are also
more likely to be obese by the age of five.
Human milk oligosaccharides, or HMO, produce short-chain fatty acids
that feed a beneficial microbial population in the infant gut. Not
only that, the bacterial composition adjusts as the baby grows older
and its needs change.
Earlier studies have shown that breast milk lowers the incidence of
diarrhea, influenza and respiratory infections during infancy, while
protecting against the later development of allergies, type 1
diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses.
As scientists have learned more about
the role intestinal flora plays in health, they have gained
appreciation for how an infant's early diet can affect this
beneficial microbial universe.
The report by San Diego bioengineers was based on in vitro
tests comparing the digestion of fresh human breast milk and nine
different infant formulas.
It was online in the journal
"Our findings support the contention
that infant feeding practice profoundly influences metabolism in
developing infants and may be the link between early feeding and
the development of metabolic disease later in life," Dr Carolyn
Slupsky and her colleagues used the
rhesus monkey model to compare the comprehensive metabolic
implications of formula- and breast-feeding practices using NMR
spectroscopy to characterize metabolite fingerprints from urine and
serum, in combination with anthropometric measurements, fecal
microbial profiling, and cytokine measurements.
They found that the infant monkeys fed
formula were larger, and had different microbiota make-up to their
counterparts fed breast milk.
Indeed, they noted that the formula fed
monkeys had higher levels of bacteria from the Ruminococcus genus
and lower levels of bacteria from the Lactobacillus genus in their
Additionally, the formula-fed infants
were found to have higher serum insulin, coupled with higher amino
acid levels - while amino acid degradation products were higher in
Slupsky and her team also observed
increases in serum and urine galactose and urine galactitol in the
second month of life in formula-fed infants - along with higher
levels of immune factors including TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, IL-1-beta,
IL-4, and other cytokines and growth factors at week 4.
"These results demonstrate that
metabolic and gut microbiome development of formula-fed infants
is different from breast-fed infants and that the choice of
infant feeding may hold future health consequences," said
Slumpsky and her colleagues.
More than 35 percent of formula-fed
babies in the United States consume GMO soy formula.
Babies on soy formula appear to grow
with many problems associated with the gastrointestinal tract. These
formulas contain very high concentrations of genistein, from 32 to
45 milligrams, which is higher than the amount found to affect
menstrual cycles in women.
GMO Soy formulas also contain
other soy isoflavones that likely affect genistein's actions in the