Scientific advances have improved the ways in which infant formula can mimic breast milk
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are components found in breast milk, known to provide benefits to infants by supporting the immune system, promoting growth of beneficial gut bacteria and supporting brain development. According to head of R&D at Chr Hansen HMO Dr Katja Parschat, the benefits derive from the structural diversity of sugars in the HMOs.
In a study conducted in 12 sites across Europe shows that infant formula containing a mix of five different human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) was well tolerated with all infants developing well. Infant formula with the five most abundant HMOs at a concentration of 5.75g per litre were used in the study, with results published journal Nutrients.
Senior vice president at Chr Hansen HMO Jesper Sig Mathiasen said the study was an important step to bring infant formula closer to breast milk, to support the healthy development of infants that can’t be breastfed.
Dr Katja Parschat said that so far around 150 different HMOs have been identified, but that most infant formula don’t contain HMOs or only the most abundant. Chr Hansen HMO plan to conduct a further study to get more insights on the benefits of the HMO on gastrointestinal health, by analysing the gut health of the infants included in the most recent study.
HMOs are authorised as ingredients for infant formula in North America, Europe, parts of Latin America and Asia with approvals pending in other key markets such as China, India, Brazil and Argentina.