Nutrition for preterm infants

Preterm infants

The occurrence of preterm birth is ranging from 5-18% depending on the region. A preterm infant is defined as an underdeveloped newborn with a low birth weight, born before 37 weeks of gestation age (GA).

Preterm infants are often immature meaning that their organs are not sufficiently mature to support normal postnatal survival. Even though, survival rates have greatly improved for preterm infants in recent years, there is still a high risk of developing complications, not only in infancy, but also in later life. While human milk is preferable to formula feeding in term infants, infants born prematurely need fortified human milk or specially designed formula to ensure the right nutrient and energy intake.

The right nutrition at the right time is of utmost importance to preterm infants. Supporting this need, Arla Foods Ingredients has several ingredients applicable for preterm infant formula such as hydrolysates and Lacprodan® MFGM-10. 

The preterm gastrointestinal system is functionally and morphologically immature. Hence, the digestive and absorptive capabilities are decreased, leading to less uptake of nutrients. Hydrolysed proteins have been shown to improve feeding tolerance and accelerate gut transit time. In a study of preterm infants who received hydrolysates instead of a standard infant formula, a reduced transit time and softer stool was observed. 
Lacprodan® MFGM-10 has a unique protein and lipid profile, containing bioactive compounds that include lactoferrin and phospholipids. Studies have demonstrated that lactoferrin can inhibit fungal and microbial infections. Prebiotic and immunomodulatory properties of Lacprodan® MFGM-10 have also been shown. Enteral supplementation with bovine lactoferrin has been found to reduce the incidence of late-onset invasive infections, especially in extremely low birth weight infants.

Another component in Lacprodan® MFGM-10 is sphingomyelin (SM). A study on preterm infants with this component found an increase in serum SM concentration in the trial group. Based on this finding, it was concluded that SM-fortified infant formula has a positive influence on the neurobehavioral development of low birth weight infants. 

Related products: Lacprodan® DI-3071, Peptigen® IF-3080, Peptigen® IF-3090Lacprodan® MFGM-10 and Lacprodan® DI-8090.


Arla Foods Ingredients supports the WHO recommendation for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant’s life and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two or beyond in combination with nutritionally appropriate complementary foods.