New research highlights the effects of MFGM lipids during pregnancy and infancy

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Participating in the test in Chongqing, China, were 1,500 pregnant women.
Participating in the test in Chongqing, China, were 1,500 pregnant women.
Fonterra’s ingredients brand NZMP has released new findings into the use of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) lipids during pregnancy and in the cognitive development of infants.

Researchers Dr Yin-Yin Xia of Chongqing Medical University in China and Dr Sophie Gallier of Fonterra presented new research findings on the impact of its NZMP SureStart MFGM Lipid100 at the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), 9-12 May 2018, in Geneva.

Chinese studies

The studies, carried out in China, investigated the effects of providing additional MFGM GA (gangliosides) and phospholipids during pregnancy and in infancy.

The research into pregnancy (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. Participating in the test in Chongqing, China, were 1,500 pregnant women starting in their first trimester (11-14 weeks pregnant); they were followed until delivery.

Dr Xia said the research built on previous reports that suggested 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,”​ Xia said.

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 in healthy infants compared to a standard formula.

It also looked at whether this supplementation improves 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.

Supports previous studies

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

Gallier said “the study also shows that MFGM 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 (Bayley-III).

“The Bayley-III assessment monitored progress at both 6-months and 12-months of age. At 12-months of age, the MFGM-supplemented group had a statistically significantly higher general adaptive score. The results of the assessment at 6 months of age already pointed to the trend that the MFGM-supplemented group had higher cognitive, language, motor, social emotional and general adaptive scores.”

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

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