Research shows infant formula with natural sugars safe for babies

Chr. Hansen

Wednesday, 01 September, 2021

Research shows infant formula with natural sugars safe for babies

A selection of immune-system boosting and brain-building sugars can be safely added to infant formula, research has found

Research has found that a unique infant formula that includes five of the most common human milk oligosaccharides found in breast milk is safe for babies. These immune-boosting, brain developing sugars are part of why breast milk is so beneficial for infants, and researchers are working towards ways of easily adding it to infant formula.

Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are one of the most abundant components of breast milk and support infants’ immune system, brain development and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Unfortunately, babies who are unable to be breastfed lose out on these benefits, leading to a quest to find how to effectively add a number of them to formula. Over 150 different kinds have been detected in human breast milk but only one is currently used in infant formula and only in a small number of countries.

The research, performed at Chr. Hansen across 12 different sites, shows that formula developed to include the five most common HMOs at natural levels is safe for consumption by infants. Breast milk is seen by the World Health Organisation as an important part of developing infants; the development of formula that includes these healthy HMOs could see widespread access to the beneficial aspect of breast milk in infants who are otherwise unable to consume any themselves.

The results of the research have just been published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.

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