Immunity in the Early Years: Building the Foundation: Nestle

person Dr. Mohammed Reaz Mobarak Head Of Department Dept. Of Epidemiology Research Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital Dhaka
Topic(s): Growth & Development Gut Microbiota


From the very first day of the child’s birth, breast milk provides protection and nutrition. In order to strike a balance for complete nourishment, infants need proteins for linear growth, carbohydrates and fats for cell development, and vitamins and minerals for metabolism. It is often observed that there is a gradual decrease in nourishment after a period of time and must hence be supplemented with complementary foods. Along with macro and micro nutrients, infants also need immunonutrients such as Zinc, Iron, Vitamin A and C which are essential for immunity and protection. These can be achieved by making appropriate additions to the baby’s diet.From the first day of life breast milk provides complete nourishment and immense protection. The immunoglobulin’s protect infants against food allergens and microbial antigens. Anti-inflammatory agents (catalase, lysozyme, lactoferrin, somatostatin) alter the manifestations of infection. Unique combination of nutrients promotes the growth of Bifidobacteria. WBC or leukocyte promote the engulf activity against antigen and create defence against diseases. From 6 months onwards, 50% energy an infant gets is from complementary food and 50% of energy is from Breast Milk. This combination is both appropriate and balanced for the infant. Bifidus lactis has certain effects on immune system which positively influence mucosal immunity and secretion of faecal IgA. They also reduce the incidence of chance of growing common pathogen and help to establish healthy bifidodominant gut flora. Studies have shown that Bifiduslactis enhances immune protection by positive influencing mucosal immunity (IgA).They also show that there is a significant reduction in intestinal permeability in infants receiving Bifidus BL (B. Lactis) supplementation. Bifidus BL, a probiotic proven to maintain a healthy microbiota and reinforce gut barrier, enhance the immune response and support for natural defence.Nourishment is achieved from food that is easily digestible and suited for small stomach, possesses energy density, enriched with essential macro and micro nutrients, meet the RDA of requirement in combination with breast milk and complementary feeding, appreciating taste and texture, well balanced in composition, hygienic and ensure physical and mental development. Protein is helpful since it is easily digestible and ensures linear growth and development. CHO and fat are helpful since adequate CHO is used for energy requirement and cell development for appropriate growth and development. Vitamins and minerals are helpful in Metabolism, Bone, Brain and Vision development. Zinc is a cofactor of many enzymes and is helpful for normal immune cell growth. Iron is used for modulation of the immune response and it decreases susceptibility to infection. Vitamin A is used for development of gut barrier and normal immune cell growth. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant as body’s natural defences and helps in immunity and protection.