Supporting infant brain development with nutritional lipids and oligosaccharides
Nutritional lipids – such as DHA, ARA and components of the MFGM – have been shown to support cognitive development in early life. DHA and ARA are well-known for their role in brain development 62Innis, S. M. (2008). Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. In Brain Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2008.08.078 81Koletzko, B., Boey, C. C. M., Campoy, C., Carlson, S. E., Chang, N., Guillermo-Tuazon, M. A., Joshi, S., Prell, C., Quak, S. H., Sjarif, D. R., Su, Y., Supapannachart, S., Yamashiro, Y., & Osendarp, S. J. M. (2014). Current information and asian perspectives on long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in pregnancy, lactation, and infancy: Systematic review and practice recommendations from an early nutrition academy workshop. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. https://doi.org/10.1159/000365767 82Koletzko, B., Bergmann, K., Thomas Brenna, J., Calder, P. C., Campoy, C., Clandinin, M. T., Colombo, J., Daly, M., Decsi, T., Demmelmair, H., Domellöf, M., Fidlermis, N., Gonzalez-Casanova, I., Van Goudoever, J. B., Hadjipanayis, A., Hernell, O., Lapillonne, A., Mader, S., Martin, C. R., … Carlson, S. E. (2020). Should formula for infants provide arachidonic acid along with DHA? A position paper of the European Academy of Paediatrics and the Child Health Foundation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz252, while clinical studies have shown that infant milk formula supplemented with MFGM can improve cognitive performance in infants 35Li, F., Wu, S. S., Berseth, C. L., Harris, C. L., Richards, J. D., Wampler, J. L., Zhuang, W., Cleghorn, G., Rudolph, C. D., Liu, B., Shaddy, D. J., & Colombo, J. (2019). Improved Neurodevelopmental Outcomes Associated with Bovine Milk Fat Globule Membrane and Lactoferrin in Infant Formula: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Journal of Pediatrics https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2019.08.030 142Timby, N., Domellöf, E., Hernell, O., Lönnerdal, B., & Domellöf, M. (2014). Neurodevelopment, nutrition, and growth until 12 mo of age in infants fed a low-energy, low-proteinformula supplemented with bovine milk fat globule membranes: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.113.064295 144Timby, N., Domellöf, M., Lönnerdal, B., & Hernell, O. (2017). Supplementation of infant formula with bovine milk fat globule membranes. In Advances in Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.116.014142.
Meanwhile, oligosaccharides – such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and II’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) – are likely to influence the gut-brain axis thanks to their bifidogenic effect. Upon their fermentation by the gut microbiota, metabolites such as short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are formed 126Ratsika, A., Codagnone, M. C., O’mahony, S., Stanton, C., & Cryan, J. F. (2021). Priming for life: Early life nutrition and the microbiota-gut-brain axis. In Nutrients. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13020423 , which may have a direct or indirect impact on cognition, brain development and even emotional wellbeing 135Silva YP, Bernardi A, Frozza RL. The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). Published online 2020.
GOS are the most widely applied oligosaccharide in infant formula globally. They are a complex mix of oligosaccharide structures, made up of glucose and galactose, which are also building blocks of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). A large body of scientific evidence supports the influence of GOS on the composition of the infant gut microbiota 10Ben, X.-M., Li, J., Feng, Z.-T., Shi, Z.-Y., Lu, Y.-D., Chen, R., & Zhou, X.-Y. (2008). Low level of galacto-oligosaccharide in infant formula stimulates growth of intestinal Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 14(42), 6564. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.14.6564 37Fanaro, S., Marten, B., Bagna, R., Vigi, V., Fabris, C., Peña-Quintana, L., Argüelles, F., Scholz-Ahrens, K. E., Sawatzki, G., Zelenka, R., Schrezenmeir, J., de Vrese, M., & Bertino, E. (2009). Galacto-oligosaccharides are bifidogenic and safe at weaning: a double-blind randomized multicenter study. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 48(1), 82–88. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19172129 49Giovannini, M., Verduci, E., Gregori, D., Ballali, S., Soldi, S., Ghisleni, D., & Riva, E. (2014). Prebiotic Effect of an Infant Formula Supplemented with Galacto-Oligosaccharides: Randomized Multicenter Trial. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2013.878232 134Sierra, C., Bernal, M.-J., Blasco, J., Martínez, R., Dalmau, J., Ortuño, I., Espín, B., Vasallo, M.-I., Gil, D., Vidal, M.-L., Infante, D., Leis, R., Maldonado, J., Moreno, J.-M., & Román, E. (2014). Prebiotic effect during the first year of life in healthy infants fed formula containing GOS as the only prebiotic: a multicentre, randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial. European Journal of Nutrition, 54(1), 89–99. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-014-0689-9 . And a recent study in young adult women, has shown that supplementation with GOS reduces anxiety in a highly-anxious subgroup. This effect was accompanied by an increase in Bifidobacteria in the gut 75Johnstone, N., Milesi, C., Burn, O., van den Bogert, B., Nauta, A., Hart, K., Sowden, P., Burnet, P. W. J., & Cohen Kadosh, K. (2021). Anxiolytic effects of a galacto-oligosaccharides prebiotic in healthy females (18–25 years) with corresponding changes in gut bacterial composition. Scientific Reports. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-87865-w
HMOs – such as 2’-FL – are non-digestible carbohydrates that have been shown to provide the right conditions for beneficial bacteria to thrive in the infant gut 15Bode, L., Kuhn, L., Kim, H.-Y., Hsiao, L., Nissan, C., Sinkala, M., Kankasa, C., Mwiya, M., Thea, D. M., & Aldrovandi, G. M. (2012). Human milk oligosaccharide concentration and risk of postnatal transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(4), 831–839. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.039503. 2’-FL in human milk has been positively associated with cognitive and motor skill scores of 18-month-old children 113Oliveros, E., Martin, M., Torres-Espinola, F. J., Segura-Moreno, T., Ramirez, M., Santos-Fandila, A., Buck, R., Rueda, R., Escudero, M., Catena, A., Azaryah, H., & Campoy, C. (2021). Human Milk Levels of 2´-Fucosyllactose and 6´-Sialyllactose are Positively Associated with Infant Neurodevelopment and are Not Impacted by Maternal BMI or Diabetic Status. Nutrition & Food Science. . Research in animal models has now also shown that supplementation with 2’-FL can improve learning and memory 152Vázquez, E., Barranco, A., Ramírez, M., Gruart, A., Delgado-García, J. M., Martínez-Lara, E., Blanco, S., Martín, M. J., Castanys, E., Buck, R., Prieto, P., & Rueda, R. (2015). Effects of a human milk oligosaccharide, 2′-fucosyllactose, on hippocampal long-term potentiation and learning capabilities in rodents. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnutbio.2014.11.016.