Chr Hansen advocates for HMO supplementation in infant formula

Published: 14-Apr-2022

The claim is based on a research review of several dozen observational studies

A recent research review by Chr Hansen has concluded that HMOs – important groups of carbohydrates in human breast milk – can be secreted in very high concentrations, and still be safe and well-tolerated by infants.

The review, published in compiles data from several dozen observational peer-reviewed studies for the five most prevalent HMOs in breast milk. It aims to provide information to support the appropriate and safe levels of HMO supplementation in infant formula.

Whereas studies have so far focused on the quantitation of HMOs in human milk, the company says, this review determines the natural concentrations of HMOs. The concentration levels vary depending on the mother’s health and genetics, environmental and geographical factors, gastational age (pregnancy progression) and lactation stage. The objective of the study was to provide a clearer perspective on natural HMO concentrations and distribution in breast milk, as this is important to develop infant formula products that more closely match the profile of breast milk.

“Breastfeeding is the best way to ensure infant health and recommended by WHO. At Chr. Hansen, we further aim to support the healthy development of infants that cannot be breastfed by providing HMOs as an ingredient and blend for infant formula. We are excited to publish this study of the five most prevalent HMOs in breast milk, which are all included in Chr. Hansen’s 5HMO-Mix in concentrations closer to nature and respecting the natural variations,” says Jesper Sig Mathiasen, Senior VP, Chr. Hansen HMO.

“The study presents important statistical data to help support the level of appropriate HMO supplementation in infant formula and confirms the safety of intake at concentrations higher than average.”

Out of over 150 HMOs identified in human breastmilk, the five most prevalent and best studied HMOs are 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL), 3-fucosyllactose (3-FL), Lacto-N-tetraose (LNT), 3'-sialyllactose (3'-SL), and 6'-sialyllactose (6'-SL).

Results show a wide distribution of HMO concentrations in breast milk, ranging up to as much as 10 g/L for the most prevalent one, 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL). Please see figure 1.

The safety, tolerability, and health benefits of the company’s 5HMO-Mix have already been demonstrated in previous scientific studies. Infants fed infant formula containing the 5HMO-Mix demonstrated similar digestive parameters and stooling patterns as breastfed infants.

Developed in 2019, Chr. Hansen’s 5HMO-Mix is already commercially available in North America, with approvals pending in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the third most abundant component found in breast milk. Research reportedly shows HMOs contribute to breastfeeding-mediated benefits, such as supporting the immune system, and healthy brain development. Also, HMOs are indicated to support gut maturation and resilience, as well as promotion of a balanced gut microbiome.

Chr. Hansen supports the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) towards breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, followed by continued breastfeeding together with complementary foods.

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