A recent study has revealed that infant formula may be the cause of cellular death as it can trigger a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis, which can be life threatening.
Necrotizing enterocolitis is a severe intestinal condition occurring with premature infants on formula milk. However, infants on breast milk are protected against this condition.
This condition is one of the major contributors of death due to gastrointestinal diseases in premature infants. Researchers are of the opinion feel that the intestines of healthy adults and older children have a mature mucosal barrier which protects against damage due to free fatty acids. However, the intestine in pre-term infants may not have a mature mucosal barrier, which increases their vulnerability to necrotizing enterocolitis.
The researchers also compared the use of breast milk against formula milk in premature infants and found that the digestion of formula milk increased cellular death or cytotoxicity whereas breast milk did not. The study revealed that breast milk seems to have a natural method to prevent cytotoxicity.