Learn about 2’-FL, the newest ingredient in formula milk for your child

The next time you’re shopping for formula milk, keep an eye out for this new innovation on the block

Keep an eye out for 2’-FL, known to support your child's natural body defences.
Keep an eye out for 2’-FL, known to support your child's natural body defences.PHOTO: ISTOCK

All mothers want the best for their children.

When it comes to selecting a formula milk brand for their children, a walk down the formula milk aisle of the supermarket can leave new parents feeling overwhelmed by the wide range of choices. Not to mention the mind-boggling list of ingredients said to be beneficial to a growing child.

Should parents get a formula milk that contains essential fatty acids like AA and DHA? Or one that has taurine added to it? What about choline? And not to forget prebiotics. Is there one that has it all?

It is easy to get lost in all the scientific terms and acronyms as you try to keep up with the latest advances and breakthroughs in formula milk to ensure that your child gets the appropriate nutrition he or she needs.

The next time you visit the formula milk section of the supermarket, “2’-FL”, i.e. 2-fucosyllactose may catch your attention.

Here are three things you need to know about 2’-FL.

Where does 2’-FL come from?

According to Dr Mark Underwood, Chief of Paediatric Neonatology and Professor of Paediatrics at the University of California Davis, 70 per cent of the immune system is located in the gut. Hence, it is important that a child receives nutrients like prebiotics to strengthen his or her immune and digestive systems. Research suggests that some babies have stronger immune systems, and this may be in part due to 2’-FL, which is the most abundant milk oligosaccharide naturally found in breast milk.1, 2

2’-FL is critically involved in feeding the healthy bacteria or microbes in the gut to promote immune development in a child’s early years.

Studies have also shown that babies fed with 2’-FL experienced less upper respiratory tract infections3 and diarrhoea4. Hence 2’-FL is believed to support a child's natural body defences.

2’-FL is rich in benefits

How exactly does 2’-FL promote immune development?

According to Dr Underwood, 2’-FL stimulates the growth of good bacteria by serving as a source of food for them.

Not only do studies show a reduction in the instances of gastrointestinal infections and upper respiratory infections among babies fed with a structurally identical version of 2’-FL, but the consumption of such an ingredient is also linked to an increase in healthy substances in the gut such as short chain fatty acids essential to helping the gut and immune system mature and develop.3

Having strong immune and digestive systems could also mean a reduced risk of food allergies and other issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and non-gut related problems later in life. Dr Underwood explains that allergies are caused by hypersensitivity in the body’s immune system when it reacts to foreign substances. As such, it is important to encourage the growth of good bacteria in the early stages of a child’s life when their immune system is developing.

Thanks to advances in nutritional science and technology, it is now possible to replicate a structurally identical version of 2’-FL that is derived from lactose. Abbott is the first in the world to introduce the breakthrough ingredient 2’-FL. For new parents looking for a milk formula for their child, this breakthrough innovation from the leader in paediatric nutrition, Abbott, may be the reassuring choice that delivers nutrition to support healthy growth, development and protection.

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1. Marriage B.J., et al. (2015). Infants Fed a Lower Calorie Formula With 2′FL Show Growth and 2′FL Uptake Like Breast-Fed Infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2015 Dec; 61(6): 649–658. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000889
2. Reverri E.J., et al. (2018). Review of the Clinical Experiences of Feeding Infants Formula Containing the Human Milk Oligosaccharide 2'-Fucosyllactose. Nutrients. 10, 1346: 1-11. doi:10.3390/nu10101346
3. Duska-McEwen G., et al. (2014). Human Milk Oligosaccharides Enhance Innate Immunity to Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Influenza in Vitro. Food Nutr Sci 2014; 5: 1387–1398. doi:10.4236/fns.2014.514151
4. Morrow A.L., et al. (2004). Human Milk Oligosaccharides Are Associated With Protection Against Diarrhea in Breast-fed Infants. J Pediatr.; 145(3):297-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2004.04.054