Let's talk immunity!
The immune system plays an essential role in protecting an infant from illness. But it is complex; the way an infant’s immune system develops and functions depends on a variety of elements, many of which are not yet fully understood. What we do know is that for a new-born, breast milk offers the most important source of defence , because it contains protective proteins such as immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, alongside human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs)  . These compounds impact the immune system in a number of different ways, from demonstrating anti-pathogenic effects and supporting gut barrier function to balancing microbiota .
At FrieslandCampina Ingredients we believe that delivering the right combination of nutrients with the right mechanisms makes all the difference in building and strengthening infant immunity. That’s why we offer a broad range of ingredients that all offer their own specific potential to support the infant immune system [5-41].
Immunity is of top priority for parents
Immunity is of top priority for parents
According to a recent global survey, 59% of parents are concerned about their infant’s immune health, which makes immune health the Number 1 concern amongst parents of 0-1 year olds. Parents indicate that immune-related symptoms such as diarrhoea, runny nose, cough and fever have affected their children most frequently in the last six months.
Important immunity mechanisms in early life
When a baby is born, its immune system has not yet fully matured. During the final stage of pregnancy and when breast feeding, the baby receives a certain amount of bioactive proteins (e.g. immunoglobulins) from the mother, which offers a great start when it comes to inhibiting pathogens .
However, those bioactive protein levels decrease within a few months following birth, and are absent entirely if breast feeding is not possible. In such cases, it’s all the more important that a new-born’s immune system develops quickly and grows strong to protect the infant when exposed to pathogens and other external threats. As 70% of the immune system is in the gut , gut health plays an important role in immunity. In other words: the inside matters, and the immune system needs to be built with the right support from within.
From a scientific standpoint, there are three key elements that help to build and strengthen the immune system, via different but interactive mechanisms: microbiota, gut barrier and anti-pathogenic effects . Some specific nutrients in human milk support these 3 mechanism, in one way or another 
Supports immunity by stimulating growth of healthy bacteria (e.g. Bifidobacteria) in the infant gut21,22, reducing the risk of infections23-25 and supporting gut barrier function26,27
Supports the development of the immune system via its potential role in gut maturation5-9, gut barrier function and by reducing the risk of infections10-13
Can strengthen immunity by reducing the risk of infections14-20
Can support immunity by stimulating the growth of Bifidobacteria28,29, reducing the risk of infections30-33, and via its potential role in gut maturation34 and anti-inflammation35,36
Features DHA and ARA, which may support immune development and function, via the cells of the adaptive immune system37-40, while assisting gut barrier integrity41
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