Study Background

Who designed the study?

The study is led by Professor Clare Wall and was designed by researchers at the University of Auckland, AgResearch (Palmerston North), Malaghan Institute (Wellington), Riddet Institute (Massey University), Plant and Food Research and Otago University. The study has received funding as part of the National Science Challenge – High Value Nutrition (


What is the purpose of the study?

We know the human gut microbiome (gut bacteria) plays an important role in our health. Babies are initially born with few gut bacteria, which are subsequently influenced by delivery, milk feeding, and environment during the first months of life. The purpose of the SUN study is to compare the impact of consuming a kūmara powder with increased resistant starch (which is achieved by adding resistant starch from green banana), or standard kūmara powder on the infant gut bacteria and how this supports infant immune health (including illness frequency and sleep behaviours). Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that resists digestion and acts as a prebiotic food for the good gut bacteria.

Frequent infant waking during the night can impact parent mood and function and infant health and development. The investigators are also interested in determining whether a kūmara powder with increased resistant starch can improve infant sleep through increasing the duration of energy release from food, impacting infant ‘fullness’ compared to standard kūmara powder.