The surveys were conducted leading up to Stonyfield Organic’s product reformulation of its YoBaby line, yogurt marketed for children 6 months to 2 years, to add the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis (BB-12), which was announced this week in a press release.
“YoBaby yogurt now contains [BB-12] which has been studied in babies and has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle,” the company said.
Consumer attitudes towards probiotics for babies
A second follow-up survey, conducted January 2017 on 1,004 parents, specifically looked at attitudes and perceptions toward probiotics. From the first survey, they found that 41% of parents see pediatricians as the most trusted source of information for infant nutrition and recommendations for feeding their baby.
Additionally, 97% of parents were confident about their feeding decisions for their babies. When it comes to probiotics, 58% deliberately incorporate probiotics in their baby or child’s diet, though only 23% of parents included probiotics daily. The rest of the parents do so only occasionally during occasions such as upset stomachs (10%), cold and flu season (9%), or when the baby is on antibiotics (6%).
Demographically, younger parents aged 18-34 living in the American West Coast are more likely to deliberately incorporate probiotics in their baby’s diet.
Science backing BB-12’s infant benefits
Only 36% of the 1,016 parents surveyed by Stonyfield Organic think probiotics are important at this age. But the science backing probiotics’ benefit for babies continues to emerge.
The manufacturer and supplier of BB-12, Danish company Chr. Hansen, reviewed 300 studies concerning its branded Bifidobacterium BB-12 strain, and found that there were “proven beneficial health effects within gastrointestinal health and immune function.”
In another study done in collaboration between Chr. Hansen and the Shanghai Institute of Pediatric Research, breast milk collected from Chinese mothers was analyzed to validate a hypothesis that Bifidobacteria and Lactobilli can be found in the breast milk of women around the world (previous studies have shown that the two strains can be found in the breast milk of Western women).
When the two strains were found in the collection of breast milk samples, the researchers concluded that the bacteria are “very important for the development of a healthy microbiota in infants and therefore a good immune system," said Mikkel Jungersen, scientific advisor for human health and nutrition at Chr. Hansen.