[Science Update] Early-life gut ecology and reduced risk for reported LRTI

2 min read /
General Nutrition Paediatrics Public health
Early-life gut ecology and reduced risk for reported LRTI

By using results from a clinical intervention trial with 2-human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) and control formula-fed infants, the current study sought to discover early-life infant parameters and microbiome characteristics linked to subsequently reported lower respiratory tract illnesses (LRTI) including bronchitis.


  • Healthy term infants from birth to 14 days old at enrollment (n = 175)


  • Test formula: An intact protein cow’s milk protein-based infant formula supplemented with 2 HMOs (2’-FL & LNnT) at 1.5 g/L and a ratio of 2:1 between the 2 HMOs
  • Control formula: The same infant formula without 2-HMO supplementation


  • Machine-learning-based classification: To look at how cases and controls may be classified based on 3-months-of-age stool microbiota composition, metabolites and gut health markers, delivery mode and formula type (with or without HMOs)


  • 2-HMO formula-fed infants’ microbiota was shifted closer to that of breastfed infants, and it was linked to a lower risk of using antibiotics later in life
  • Infants fed on 2-HMO formula had a considerably decreased risk of reporting bronchitis and LRTI
  • Main features that distinguish infants without experiencing any reported bronchitis (n = 80/106) or LRTI (n = 70/103):
    • Formula supplemented with 2 HMOs (2’-FL & LNnT)
    • Higher acetate, fucosylated glycans and Bifidobacterium
    • Lower succinate, butyrate, propionate and 5-aminovalerate
    • Lower carnobacteriaceae members and Escherichia


  • The observed clinical effects of decreased risk for bronchitis and LRTI in infants given a formula containing HMOs are partially explained by an early-life gut ecology defined by Bifidobacterium species-driven metabolic alterations

2’-FL = 2’-Fucosyllactose; LNnT = Lacto-N-Neotetraose

Link to the full article:


Dogra SK et al. Human milk oligosaccharide-stimulated bifidobacterium species contribute to prevent later respiratory tract infections. Microorganisms. 2021;9(9):1939.

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