UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Dietary Fatty Acids and Host–Microbial Crosstalk in Neonatal Enteric Infection Quin, Candice; Gibson, Deanna L.


Human milk is the best nutritional choice for infants. However, in instances where breastfeeding is not possible, infant formulas are used as alternatives. While formula manufacturers attempt to mimic the performance of human breast milk, formula-fed babies consistently have higher incidences of infection from diarrheal diseases than those breastfed. Differences in disease susceptibility, progression and severity can be attributed, in part, to nutritional fatty acid differences between breast milk and formula. Despite advances in our understanding of breast milk properties, formulas still present major differences in their fatty acid composition when compared to human breast milk. In this review, we highlight the role of distinct types of dietary fatty acids in modulating host inflammation, both directly and through the microbiome-immune nexus. We present evidence that dietary fatty acids influence enteric disease susceptibility and therefore, altering the fatty acid composition in formula may be a potential strategy to improve infectious outcomes in formula-fed infants.

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