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Arch Dis Child. 1989 Dec;64(12):1685-90.

Diet and faecal flora in the newborn: lactoferrin.

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  • 1Sorrento Maternity Hospital, Birmingham.


The faecal flora of breast fed babies differs from that of bottle fed babies. We have shown that the use of a whey predominant formula rather than a casein predominant one induced a faecal flora generally closer to that of breast fed babies but substantial differences remained. The whey proteins of breast milk include much more lactoferrin than is found in cows' milk. Observations both in animals and in vitro suggest that lactoferrin could be responsible for some of these differences between bottle and breast fed babies. This study was designed to determine the effects on faecal flora of the addition of bovine lactoferrin to the diet of bottle fed babies while holding other qualities of their diet constant. As lactoferrin is an iron binding protein three test formulas were used: (a) no added iron and no added lactoferrin (basic), (b) no iron but added lactoferrin (L), and (c) added iron and lactoferrin (LF). The addition of lactoferrin had little effect upon the faecal microflora and did not move the pattern of the faecal flora in the direction of the breast fed baby. The addition of iron to the formula had more effect on the faecal flora than did lactoferrin. At day 4 it encouraged Escherichia coli and discouraged staphylococcal faecal colonisation. At day 14 the addition of iron to the formula discouraged bifidobacteria. The reasons why bovine lactoferrin was ineffective in vivo in this study are discussed.

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