Fonterra highlights benefits of MFGM on fetal and infant brain development

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14 May 2018 --- Fonterra's ingredient brand NZMP has released new findings that highlight the positive effect of NZMP’s SureStart MFGM Lipid100 (also known as Nuelipid) during pregnancy on fetal brain composition and on further infant cognitive development.

“The study also shows that MFGM (Milk Fat Globule Membrane) supplementation in early life improves some measures of normal cognitive development in infancy using the validated Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition,” says Sophie Gallier, senior researcher at Fonterra.

NutritionInsight has previously reported on NZMP SureStart joining Smarter Lives, a five-year research program that investigates how nutrition impacts the gut-brain axis. NZMP SureStart is touted by the company as the world’s “most trusted source of pediatric ingredients,” and the area of brain development that they wish to increase their knowledge on is a top concern for many parents.

The two studies release demonstrate that Nuelipid supplementation can provide MFGM complex lipids such as gangliosides (GA) and phospholipids during both pregnancy and separately during infancy. The latter research presents the effect this has on normal cognitive development of infants at 6 and 12 months.

The first Chinese study (CLIMB study) compared the outcomes of complex lipid-enriched maternal milk that had been supplemented with SureStart MFGM Lipid 100 with a control milk and a reference group. The participants were 1,500 pregnant women in China, who participated in the study starting in their first trimester (11 to 14 weeks pregnant) and were followed until delivery. 

Dr. Yin-Yin Xia, of the CLIMB study, says the research built on previous reports which suggested that consuming MFGM sources of complex lipids may increase levels of fetal GA with the potential to improve fetal brain composition and cognitive outcomes. 

“The findings show that GA and phospholipid supplementation with SureStart MFGM Lipid 100 during pregnancy was well tolerated and supported normal, healthy pregnancy outcomes. The supplementation also increased GA levels in maternal blood, which could increase GA availability to support fetal brain development.”

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Dr. Yin-Yin Xia of the CLIMB study

The second piece of research (CLING study) investigated infant formula with or without enrichment in MFGM complex lipids. The study assessed whether the enriched formula supports brain development outcomes at 12 months old in healthy infants compared to a standard formula. It also looked at whether this supplementation improved brain development outcomes at six months, as well as other measures of growth and development, immunity and gut maturity during the first year of life.

The preliminary findings from the CLING study found that supplementation in healthy infants in the first 12 months of life, supports adequate growth and is well tolerated. 

Essentially, the MFGM stabilizes the milk fat globules but also provides bioactive components such as complex milk lipids including GA and phospholipids, as well as MFGM proteins. The CLING study supports previous studies, which have shown that the supplementation with MFGM in infancy supports normal cognitive development in infants.

Fonterra asserts that breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for infant and how breast milk substitutes are recognized by the World Health Organisation as safe and nutritious alternatives to breast milk for infants whose mothers cannot, or choose not to, breastfeed.


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