Thickened infant formula: What to know

Nutrition. 2018 May:49:51-56. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2017.10.010. Epub 2018 Feb 26.


Objectives: This study aimed to provide an overview of the characteristics of thickened formulas to aid health care providers manage infants with regurgitations.

Methods: The indications, properties, and efficacy of different thickening agents and thickened formulas on regurgitation and gastroesophageal reflux in infants were reviewed. PubMed and the Cochrane database were searched up to December 2016.

Results: Based on the literature review, thickened formulas reduce regurgitation, may improve reflux-associated symptoms, and increase weight gain. However, clinical efficacy is related to the characteristics of the formula and of the infant. Commercial thickened formulas are preferred over the supplementation of standard formulas with thickener because of the better viscosity, digestibility, and nutritional balance. Rice and corn starch, carob bean gum, and soy bean polysaccharides are available as thickening agents. Hydrolyzed formulas have recently shown promising additional benefit.

Conclusions: Thickened formulas reduce the frequency and severity of regurgitation and are indicated in formula-fed infants with persisting symptoms despite reassurance and appropriate feeding volume intake.

Keywords: Antiregurgitation formula; Gastroesophageal reflux; Infants; Regurgitation; Thickened formula; Thickening agents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Digestion
  • Galactans / analysis
  • Gastric Emptying / drug effects
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / prevention & control*
  • Glycine max / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mannans / analysis
  • Oryza / chemistry
  • Plant Gums / analysis
  • Polysaccharides / analysis
  • Starch / analysis
  • Viscosity
  • Weight Gain
  • Zea mays / chemistry


  • Galactans
  • Mannans
  • Plant Gums
  • Polysaccharides
  • Starch
  • locust bean gum