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Immunity in childhood

5 mins


A hub of easily accessible educational resources about the influence of nutrition on the development of immunity in childhood.

Mother breastfeeding baby

The first 1000 days of an infant’s life are a dynamic period. Different nutrition components during this period play an important role in developing an age-appropriate immune system.

The immune system plays the important role of protection of an infant from birth, against infections and to improve long term health.

In this article we share a variety of resources about the development of the infant’s immune system and the supportive role of nutrition1,2.

CPD accredited webinar - Breastfeeding, covid-19 and immunity

Breastfeeding baby

This webinar discusses the advice healthcare professionals can give to parents on current recommendations regarding breastfeeding with COVID-19, the guidelines around vaccinations during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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Short video and infographic - The benefits of HMOs

These resources based on latest research, highlights that breastfed babies have fewer infections and may have a stronger immune system3, which in part may be due to the presence of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) in breast milk4,5.

Learn more about HMOs and it’s benefits on immunity by watching the video or downloading the infographic.

CPD accredited e-Learning modules - HMO Academy

HMO Academy

This resource shares evidence-based information from more than a decade of research on HMOs and the many benefits of HMOs.

Module 1: HMOs: Basic science and physiological significance.

Module 2: Effects of HMOs on gut microbiota and beyond

Module 3: Role of HMOs in the protection against infections and necrotising enterocolitis

Module 4: HMOs: complex structure and specific functional benefits

Module 5: HMOs: clinical evidence

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CPD accredited webinar - Early life gut health and immunity

Mother breastfeeding baby

In this webinar Dr Caroline Childs explains how the immune system develops and what factors will help or hinder this development. Also discussed is the gut microbiome and how it influences the immune system.

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Pioneering HMO research

SMA® Nutrition have been leading research in baby nutrition for over 100 years and are dedicated to learning more about breast milk. Our research into HMOs started in the 1980s and we have been pioneering HMO research for 30 years.

Formula feeding and HMOs*

Early life nutrition plays an important role in an infant's health and breastfeeding is the gold standard when it comes to infant feeding6. When babies are combination fed or formula fed it is also important that parents are making informed choices on formulas they choose, here you will learn more about SMA® ADVANCED range formulas with HMOs

Here you will learn more about SMA® ADVANCED range formulas with HMOs.

Other useful resources - How HMOs support the developing immune system

HMOs supports the developing infant immune system in four main ways5,7-8:

Gut immunity

1. Selectively feeds good bacteria within the gut, where 70-80% of the human body's immune cells live.

Block bad bacteria

2. Blocking bad bacteria from attaching to the gut and doing harm.

Gut barrier

3. Strengthening the developing gut barrier

Balance the immune system

4. Helping to balance the immune system

For more short videos and articles click here

  1. Hegar, B., et al. (2019). The role of two human milk oligosaccharides, 2'-fucosyllactose and lacto-N-neotetraose, in infant nutrition. Pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology & nutrition, 22(4), 330-340.

  2. Fragkou, P. C., et al. (2021). Impact of early life nutrition on children's immune system and noncommunicable diseases through its effects on the bacterial microbiome, virome and mycobiome. Frontiers in immunology, 12, 806.

  3. Victora CG, Bahl R, Barros AJD, et al. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. Lancet 2016; 387: 475-90.

  4. Kunz C. Historical aspects of human milk oligosaccharides. Adv Nutr 2012; 3(3): 430S-9S.

  5. Bode L. Human milk oligosaccharides: every baby needs a sugar mama. Glycobiology 2012; 22(9): 1147-62.

  6. World Health Organisation (2002). Infant and young child nutrition: Global strategy on infant and young child feeding. Available at: (Accessed January 2022)

  7. Jantscher-Krenn E, Bode L. Human milk oligosaccharides and their potential bene ts for the breast-fed neonate. Minerva Pediatr 2012; 64(1): 83-99.

  8. Smilowitz JT, Lebrilla CB, Mills DA, et al. Breast milk oligosaccharides: structure-function relationships in the neonate. Annu Rev Nutr 2014; 34: 143-69.


We believe that breastfeeding is the ideal nutritional start for babies and we fully support the World Health Organizations recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life followed by the introduction of adequate nutritious complementary foods along with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age. We also recognize that breastfeeding is not always an option for parents. We recommend healthcare professionals to inform parents about the advantages of breastfeeding. If parents consider not to breastfeed, healthcare professionals should inform parents that such a decision can be difficult to reverse and that the introduction of partial bottle-feeding will reduce the supply of breast milk. Parents should consider the social and financial implications of the use of infant formula. As babies grow at different rates, healthcare professionals should advise on the appropriate time for a baby to begin eating complementary foods. Infant formula and complementary foods should always be prepared, used and stored as instructed on the label in order to avoid risks to a baby’s health.