The Use of Sucrose during the first 6 months of life – Scientific Facts: Nestle

Speaker: Dr. Kishore Kumar, Senior Neonatologist & Pediatrician Presented at: Nestlé Nutrition Institute Workshop, Bangalore


Breast milk which content sugar as lactose it accounts for 40% the energy requirement of the is gold standard infant formula to be followed. Lactose apart from being a sugar helps absorption of calcium, water, stool consistency in babies and it also helps in absorption of micro flora. There are many other sugars like fructose in fruits, maltose in other things, and also sugar which we consume every day called as Sucrose. These can’t be used in infant formulas because sucrose is a disaccharide, it contains two molecules of sugar, glucose and fructose. International recommendations clearly say that sucrose is not recommended, starch is not recommended sugar, glucose at times can be used but prefer the sugar infant formulae like lactose. Studies have confirmed that sucrose used in early childhood is responsible for later on onset obesity. Menghini et al have clearly demonstrated that if sugar is used then children will develop early caries, childhood caries popularly called as ECC. Cormier and White et al have demonstrated that sucrose causes hyper activity behaviour in infants, in fact many of the children are reported to be ADST for the unknown reasons. Early childhood caries has seeds which can permanently damage children teeth. Sucrose is known to interface micronutrient intake and it also interfaces with the absorption of mini micronutrient and causes fermentation which leads to early childhood carries.

One of the problems of sucrose is that it primes the teeth and gut for the sugar and part of the sugar which is sucrose is fermented leads to acid production which leads to fermentation and bacterial bowel growth which is the foundation stone for early childhood caries. There are lots of factors other than these that also play a role, like socioeconomic factors like low educational level of mothers or her knowledge of prevention of caries is not adequate then these things and dental hygiene also play a role. Early exposure to sucrose can lead to the taste preferences which can lasts anywhere up to 10 years of life. Infants have a higher nutritional intake (per kg per body weight) as their nutritional needs vary and they are fussy eaters which makes micronutrient intake difficult. Children need almost 3.5 times more calcium intake than adults and almost 5 to 6 times more intake of iron, vitamin C. Studies have shown that too much of sucrose will lead to children suffering from micro nutrient deficiencies. Studies have also shown that high sucrose intake will lead to better growth for first few years but will cause growth problems later in life. This will be in addition to early caries and micronutrient deficiencies.

WHO promotes healthy nutrition and recommends for the population in general including children to limit the intake of sugars and to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts. Limit the energy intake from total fats and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and to be physically active at least 60 minutes (for children) of regular, moderate to vigorous intensity each day.