"Adding a type of carbohydrate found in human breast milk to infant formula may cut the incidence of allergies and infections in the young, researchers claim.

A study in the Journal of Nutrition found the benefits lasted long after the babies had stopped having formula and had been weaned, with the effects still evident after two years.

Child healthcare specialists hailed the new study as very promising, building on earlier evidence that the specific mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides can encourage the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut and so enhance the development of the immune system in early life."