Supporting infant cognitive development and gastrointestinal health
Human milk is a complex and unique source of nutrition made specifically for the needs of the developing infant. Observational studies show that early nutrition influences both short and long term health, with formula fed infants having higher risk of being overweight, higher incidence of infections during the first year and lower cognitive scores. Understanding and identifying essential components from human milk is therefore vital to developing the best nutritional strategy for formula fed infants in order to close the functional gap between human milk and infant formulas.
One of the main compositional gaps is found in the fat used for infant formula production. Since the middle of the twentieth century, milk fat has progressively been replaced by vegetable oils, yet ideally both fat sources should be present. As a consequence, standard infant formulas now have either low concentrations of, or completely lack, the biologically important building blocks that are present in dairy fat such as Milk Fat Globule Membrane (MFGM).
Milk fat globules are surrounded by a double-layered phospholipid membrane comprising specific membrane proteins. These phospholipids and protein components are present in much lower concentrations in bovine milk than in human milk, where they perform several roles in infant nutrition and development.
Figure 1: Milk Fat Globule (left) and zoom into the Milk Fat Globule Membrane layers (right)
At Arla Foods Ingredients we have developed Lacprodan® MFGM-10 for infant nutrition with a unique protein and lipid profile including compounds such as lactoferrin, IgG, sialic acid, phospholipids and gangliosides.
Phospholipids and gangliosides are important components in neuronal and cognitive development. By adding Lacprodan® MFGM-10, to an infant formula it will be possible to get closer to the phospholipid profile found in human milk. A clinical study has shown that an infant formula supplemented with Lacprodan® MFGM-10 results in significantly improved cognitive development among formula-fed infants at year one compared to a standard formula. Infants receiving formula supplemented with Lacprodan® MFGM-10 demonstrated similar cognitive performance as the breastfed infants. This demonstrates that Lacprodan® MFGM-10 supplementation to infant formula narrows the gap in cognitive development between breastfed and formula fed infants.
Furthermore, the unique composition of Lacprodan® MFGM-10 is also behind antiviral and antibacterial mechanisms that combat gut-derived infections. A clinical study has shown that a complementary food enriched with Lacprodan® MFGM-10 significantly reduced prevalence of diarrhoea episodes in infants from 6 months of age, and this protection was non-specific with regard to the causative pathogens. Furthermore, Lacprodan® MFGM-10 reduced the episodes of bloody diarrhoea after adjustment for co-variants. Finally, supplementation of an infant formula with Lacprodan® MFGM-10 has also shown to reduce the risk of acute otitis media, decrease antipyretics use in formula-fed infants, and has immune-modulatory effects on humoral response against pneumococcus vaccine.
Benefits associated with Lacprodan® MFGM-10
- Clinically demonstrated to support brain development
- Reduce incidence and severity of diarrhoea episodes
- Supports intestinal maturation and a healthy microbiota
- Reduce the risk of acute otitis media, decrease antipyretics use, and has immune-modulatory effects
Leading image: Artistic interpretation of milk fat globule membrane.
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.