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Keywords:

  • breast milk;
  • infant formula;
  • infant immunity;
  • immune stimulation;
  • nucleotides;
  • probiotics

Newborn babies possess a functional but immature immune system as a defense against a world teeming with microorganisms. Breast milk contains a number of biological, active compounds that support the infant's immune system. These include secretory immu-noglobulin A (IgA), which confers specific protection against enteric pathogens, as well as numerous other immunological, active ingredients. A number of these ingredients can be used as supplements for infant formulas based on cow's milk. Here, the strength of evidence regarding the immune-stimulating effects of selected minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, pre- andpro-biotics, and nucleotides is reviewed. An assessment of how these ingredients are used in infant-formula products currently available on the market is also presented.