Background and objectives: Human milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) has multifunctional health benefits. We evaluated neurodevelopment and growth of healthy term infants fed bovine milk-derived MFGM-enriched formula (MF) over 12 months.
Methods and study design: A prospective, multi-center, double-blind, randomized trial was conducted in Fuzhou, China. Healthy term infants (n=212), aged <14 days, were assigned randomly to be fed MF or a standard formula (SF) for 6 months and then switched to stage 2 MF and SF formula until 12 months. A reference group (n=206) contained healthy breastfed infants (BFR). Neurodevelopment was assessed with Bayley-III Scales.
Results: At 12 months, the composite social emotional (+3.5) and general adaptive behaviour (+5.62) scores were significantly higher in MF than SF (95% CIs 0.03 to 6.79 and 1.78 to 9.38; p=0.048 and 0.004, respectively). Mean cognitive (+2.85, 95% CIs -1.10 to 6.80, p=0.08), language (+0.39, 95% CIs -2.53 to 3.30, p=0.87) and motor (+0.90, 95% CIs -2.32 to 4.13, p=0.49) scores tended to be higher in MF than SF, but the differences between the two groups were not significant. BFR scored higher on Bayley-III than either MF or SF at 6 and 12 months. Cognitive scores were significantly higher in BFR than SF (95% CI 0.05 to 7.20; p=0.045), but not MF (p=0.74) at 6 months. Short-term memory was significantly higher in MF than SF at 12 months (95% CI 1.40 to 12.33; p=0.008). At 4 months, serum gangliosides were significantly higher in MF and BFR than SF (95% CI 0.64 to 13.02; p=0.025). Milk intake, linear growth, body mass and head circumference were not significantly different between formula-fed groups.
Conclusions: MFGM supplementation in early life supports adequate growth, increased serum gangliosides concentration and improves some measures of cognitive development in Chinese infants.