AFI’s ‘Staging’ concept is designed to reflect the fact that the composition of breast milk changes significantly during lactation to meet the evolving nutritional needs of developing infants.
In contrast, infant formula products offer a “static” diet and significantly higher levels of protein than breast milk. According to AFI, formula-fed infants consume between 50% and 80% more protein than breast-fed infants.
Higher levels of protein typically lead to more rapid growth, which has been linked with obesity later in life.
AFI business development manager, Pernille Hostrup, told DairyReporter.com that said the concept will provide “inspiration for infant formula manufacturers.”
“Four different stages of development”
“Protein levels in breast milk start very high, and then drop after one or two months,” said Hostrup
“It has been proven that infant formula products contain higher levels of protein than breast milk. The consumption of too much protein by infant has been linked to a higher risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.”
"This is a concept, not a product. It is meant as inspiration for infant formula manufacturers.”
The ‘Staging’ concept is built around AFI’s Lacprodan portfolio of protein ingredients, which can be blended in varying proportions to adjust the protein content of formula to suit infants at four different stages of development during their first six months.
“Using this concept, manufacturers could develop four different stages of infant formula for babies up to the age of six months – zero to half-a-month, half-a-month to one month, one month to three months, and three months to six month,” said Hostrup.
Lacprodan also has an amino acid profile that closely matches the needs of infants, AFI added. Amino acids support normal growth, and promote brain, intestinal and immune system development in infants.
‘Staging’ concept will “inspire manufacturers”
“Using our ingredients it is possible for manufacturers to produce infant formula with lower, suitable levels of protein,” said Hostrup. “They could then produce infant formula products closer to human milk.”
“Breast milk is very complex. There are so many proteins. It will never be possible to get it 100% identical. But infant formula can still get closer,” said Hostrup. “This concept is meant to inspire manufacturers in future.”
European Commission (EC) Directive 2006/141/EC dictates minimum and maximum levels for protein in infant formula. This legislation currently prevents the implementation of AFI's ‘Staging’ concept by infant formula manufacturers.
But Hostrup believes that through further research, the EC will make amendments to the legislation.
“We hope that through further research they will change the legislation,” she said. “We believe that this will happen in the near future.”