• 4/26/2024
  • Reading time 1 min.

Study with infants shows a surprising "internal clock" of intestinal bacteria

The formula of baby food has an effect on intestinal flora

The formulation of infant formula has an effect on the intestinal flora of babies. This was discovered by a team led by Prof. Dirk Haller from the Department of Nutrition and Immunology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in a study involving 210 children. According to the study, baby food enriched with galacto-oligosaccharides ensures a higher concentration of desired bifidobacteria in the intestine than substitute food enriched directly with bifidobacteria.

Infant with drinking bottle

Breast milk is considered the gold standard for healthy infant nutrition, and a variety of ingredients ensure the normal development of intestinal flora. Prof. Dirk Haller emphasizes: "Infant formula in combination with breast milk leads to normal intestinal flora development. We were also able to prove that different replacement formulas directly affect the composition of the intestinal flora."

The differences were particularly evident between the infants' third and seventh month of life. Adding bifidobacteria to the infant formula did not lead to the hoped-for increase in these bacteria in the intestine. Breast milk and substitute formula mixed with galacto-oligosaccharides worked measurably better here. The researchers gained their findings through molecular examinations of the babies' food and stool over a period from birth to twelve months of age.

Surprising finding: intestinal bacteria have their own "internal clock"

As a side effect of their investigations, the researchers surprisingly discovered that intestinal bacteria live according to a 24-hour day-and-night rhythm. They even maintained this rhythm outside the intestine in the laboratory. It was, therefore, not dependent on the natural rhythm set by the babies' organism. The researchers conclude that the intestinal bacteria have their own "internal clock". However, their exact functioning still needs to be investigated further.


Nina Heppner, Sandra Reitmeier, Marjolein Heddes et al: “Diurnal rhythmicity of infant fecal microbiota and metabolites: A randomized controlled interventional trial with infant formula”, published in Cell Host & Microbe, DOI: https://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/fulltext/S1931-3128(24)00058-1

Technical University of Munich

Corporate Communications Center

Contacts to this article:

Prof. Dr. Dirk Haller
Technische Universität München
TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan
Lehrstuhl für Ernährung und Immunologie
ZIEL – Institute for Food & Health (Director)
+49 8161 71 2026
dirk.hallerspam prevention@tum.de

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