New clinical data demonstrate improved health outcomes for formula fed infants

Spain - Sun, 04/05/2015

New clinical data demonstrate improved health outcomes for formula fed infants. Supplementation of a formula with milk fat globule membranes (MFGM) reduced infections and improved cognitive development - outcomes comparable to healthy breast fed infants.

Breast feeding outcomes set the standard…

Breast feeding is best for infants and remains the gold standard for their feeding, particularly during the first period of life when milk is the sole source of nutrition. In observational studies, differences between breast fed infants and those who are formula fed continue to be observed. Formula fed infants have typically grown faster in the first, have a slower rate of cognitive development, and a greater rate of infections such as otitis media and respiratory tract infections.

A recent study undertaken by a team of paediatricians at Umea University, Sweden & University of California Davis (USA), has found a positive effect of the supplementation of infant formula with bovine milk fat globule membranes (MFGM).

80 infants were fed formula with bovine milk fat globule membranes (MFGM), which contains a number of bioactive components similar to those found in human milk, and compared with 80 standard formula fed and 80 breast fed infants. The experimental formula also had a lower energy & protein content.

Researchers showed that the supplementation of bovine milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) to infant formula had a positive effect on the cognitive development of infants as well as reducing the incidence of middle ear infections (otitis media).

Cognitive scores at 12 months comparable to those of breast fed infants (in terms of Bayley Scales III of infant and toddler development).

Significantly lower incidence in acute otitis media (middle ear infections) and the consequent use of antipyretics was also observed - with no difference when compared with the breast fed group.

Growth rates similar to the breast fed infants with no differences observed between the breast fed cohort and the experimental cohort at 12 months.

According to the researchers, one interpretation of the results is to conclude that MFGM contains components that are necessary for optimal cognitive development - possibly through the development of the neurological and immune systems – hitherto missing from infant formulae.

MFGM, a bioactive fraction in human milk which contains glycoproteins, sphingomyelin, cholesterol, gangliosides and phospholipids, has already been shown to have positive effects on the development of nervous systems.

Authors of the study said “It is probable that the supplementation of MFGMs has some benefits for exclusively formula-fed infants, especially early in life before complementary foods are introduced”.

This research, supported by the Hero Group, has highlighted the relevance of milk fat components, naturally present in breast milk, for infant formulae.

Encouraged by this research and the view of the investigators, Hero Group has launched a new range of infant formulae based on the design of this experimental formula.

These results have been published in Am J Clin Nutr (2014) and JPGN (2015).