During the 6th World Congress of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Professor Yannis Manios presented at FrieslandCampina Institute’s breakfast symposium. This is a write-up of his presentation.
Prof. Manios highlighted that variability in the composition and nutrient quality of infant formula (IF) from different manufacturers affects the digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients, thereby impacting the growth and development of infants.
Heat treatment during IF manufacturing leads to protein glycation, resulting in lower bioavailability of amino acids. Single IF manufacturing involves minimal heat treatment compared with double IF manufacturing, thereby limiting protein glycation and promoting gastrointestinal comfort (Figure 1). However, some manufacturers who lack direct access to milk utilize double IF manufacturing processes, which increase protein glycation, and reduce the bioavailability of amino acids for intestinal absorption.
Figure 1. Different levels of protein glycation in commercially available IFs and their effect on gut discomfort.
Curd particles are formed from the interactions between milk casein, salts and minerals. Casein mineralization levels vary in different IFs due to varying casein:whey ratio, variations in the cow breeds or in individual cows within the same breed, or differences in the nature and amount of salts added. IFs with lower levels of casein mineralization form softer curd particles and hence improve digestibility in the stomach.
In addition to casein, milk also contains fat that largely comprises of triglycerides such as sn-2 palmitic acid, which is efficiently absorbed in the small intestine and reduces the formation of insoluble fatty acid soap complexes, and improves stool consistency and calcium absorption. Bovine milk fat comprises higher levels of sn-2 palmitic acids than vegetable fat blends, the latter being commonly used in IF. Hence, higher amounts of bovine milk fat containing sn-2 palmitic acid could support the growth and digestive comfort of infants.
In summary, lower levels of protein glycation, casein mineralization and using milk fat to increase sn2-palmitate content could support the growth and digestive comfort of infants.
Watch the video here.Leveraging dairy science for infant digestion and growth by Prof Yannis Manios
Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for healthy growth and development of babies. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to two years or beyond. Mothers should receive guidance on proper maternal nutrition in order to help sustain an adequate supply and quality of breast milk. Unnecessary introduction of bottle-feeding, partially or fully, or of other complementary foods and drinks may have a negative impact on breastfeeding, which may be irreversible. Mothers should consult their doctor and consider the social and financial implications before deciding to use breast milk substitutes or if they have difficulty breastfeeding. Usage, preparation and storage instructions of breast milk substitutes or of other complementary foods and drinks should be followed carefully as improper or unnecessary use may pose a health hazard.