subject: infant formula

Producing Human Milk Sugars for Use in Formula

Producing Human Milk Sugars for Use in Formula

It’s well known that human milk is good for you (1-5). Sugars, called oligosaccharides, form the third largest component of human milk and have been associated with many beneficial effects. These human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have been shown to influence the composition of the gut microbiome, modulate the immune system, and help protect against pathogens (6-11, 22) Given the various benefits of HMOs, there has been a lot of interest in figuring out how to introduce HMOs into formula. However, more than 200 human milk oligosaccharides have been discovered so far, and their variety and complexity makes them challenging to synthesize (21-23). Read More...

The Breast Milk Products of the Future

The Breast Milk Products of the Future

For several years now, as work on the health benefits of the constituents of breast milk has progressed, researchers have wondered whether their findings might benefit infants in ways other than encouraging moms and NICUs to feed them breast milk. In short, scientists have imagined that breast milk’s oligosaccharides, unusual and complex proteins and so on, could be bottled in some way, and provided quasi-medicinally to infants with particular needs, and perhaps even to sick adults. Science aside, the field has always been held back by a shortage of available human milk. But, with the Internet acting as an aggregator of many small-scale suppliers (mothers), a new world of breast milk-based products is beginning to open up. Read More...

Breastfeeding and Vitamin D Deficiency

Breastfeeding and Vitamin D Deficiency

Breastfed babies get all the nourishment they need from their mother's milk—right? Almost. One nutrient they don't get enough of from breast milk is vitamin D, a hormone essential for babies' growth and health. Instead, infants rely on vitamin D transferred from their mother via the placenta during early pregnancy; vitamin D produced in the baby's skin after sun exposure; or vitamin D supplied via infant formula. Recently, it's become clear that vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women is widespread in many parts of the world (1). This means that many babies who are exclusively breastfed and also kept out of the sun— as recommended by health authorities—are lacking in vitamin D. To tackle this global health problem, a new study (2) calls for greater attention to the vitamin D levels in pregnant mothers and newborns. Read More...

Fats, Formula, and Brainy Babies

Fats, Formula, and Brainy Babies

Can infant formula be boosted to prevent formula-fed babies from missing out on the brain-stimulating ingredients of breast milk? Seeking to answer this important question, a new study found that a supplement of naturally occurring milk fats improved the brain development and certain cognitive abilities in newborn piglets. Read More...

Should Breastfeeding Mothers be Paid?

Should Breastfeeding Mothers be Paid?

Is offering vouchers to mothers, who are statistically unlikely to breastfeed, bribery—and thus a misuse of public funds—or is it smart public health policy? A pilot study in poorer areas in northern England are testing whether offering new mothers shopping vouchers helps increase breastfeeding rates. The results so far suggest that the scheme does achieve this aim. Opinion is divided, however, as to whether this would be a good use of public finances. Read More...

Building Better Options: Bovine Osteopontin in Infant Formulas

Building Better Options: Bovine Osteopontin in Infant Formulas

Cow’s milk, wheat flour, and sugar mixed together was the first recipe whipped up by Henri Nestlé’s in the mid-1800s marketed as “farine lactée.” However, infant feeding-practices have been widely variable historically and cross-culturally for thousands of years, if not longer (1). Infants have been fed combinations of animal milks, cereal grains, meat broths, juices, tea, and a diversity of supplemental culturally specific infant foods (1). More recently, improved research instruments and techniques have yielded new information, leading to the reformulation of commercial artificial breast milks. Infant formula now typically includes long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) (2) and lactorferrin (3,4). Versions of formula that feature prebiotics and probiotics are also commonly available (5,6). Might bovine osteopontin be the next ingredient to be added to infant formulas? Read More...

Stop, Slow, & Go: Hormonal Signals from Mother’s Milk

Stop, Slow, & Go: Hormonal Signals from Mother's Milk

Hormones are not just for women! From babies to the elderly, both females and males have these chemical messengers circulating throughout their bodies. Astonishingly, milk contains hormones too. Read More...

Protein for Babies: Too Much of a Good Thing

Protein for Babies: Too Much of a Good Thing

Intuitively, most of us would think that a high protein intake would be advantageous for babies and that the more of it would be better, as protein helps build and maintain our muscles and different tissues. However, in the long term it may actually be the opposite. Recent reports indicate that a high protein intake in infancy is associated with a greater risk of obesity later in life. Read More...

New Tool Helps Clinicians Customize Milk for Premature Babies

New Tool Helps Clinicians Customize Milk for Premature Babies

Premature babies have higher protein requirements compared with term babies. To keep these babies growing at the appropriate rate, their mother’s breast milk needs additional protein. Sounds simple enough, but determining just how much protein fortifier should be added is quite complicated due to the high variation in milk protein concentration across (and even within) human mothers. Read More...

Hidden Farmyard Sugars

Hidden Farmyard Sugars

In recent years, lactation science has paid great attention to the 200-odd medium-sized sugar molecules found in human breast milk. This is because these oligosaccharides, the sugars in the milk, (as the sugars are formally termed) have important roles in promoting infant health. These roles hinge on their structure, but until now, it was always understood that the oligosaccharides of domestic animals were rather dull by comparison to those found in human breast milk. However, a recent survey of the milk of cows, sheep, pigs, horses, goats, and dromedary camels has uncovered hitherto unknown diversity. Read More...