Nutrition during the first year of life can have a profound and lasting impact—particularly on the developing brain. A child’s brain size increases 175% during the first year of life.1 Providing nutrition that supports brain development and function during this critical window of opportunity is key.2
Milk fat globule membrane, or MFGM, is a naturally occurring 3-layer membrane with important bioactive components to support brain function.3-5 It contains approximately 200 proteins and a wide variety of complex lipids, many of which are known to play important functional roles within the brain, gut and other parts of the body.5
Key Components of MFGM
The MFGM structure is complex and comprises a variety of phospholipids, glycolipids, proteins and glycoproteins, along with cholesterol and other lipids.
Key MFGM components believed to impact cognitive development include:
Sphingomyelin, the most abundant species of sphingolipid, is found in the myelin sheath.10,11
Both sphingomyelin and gangliosides play a role in supporting myelination, which accounts for a large portion of brain growth during late gestation and the first 2 years of life.12
Cognitive Outcomes Closer to Breast Milk
In a 2014 study by Timby et al., cognitive outcomes were evaluated at 12 months using the Bayley-III Cognitive Scale in healthy term infants (<2 months old) randomized to receive formula with MFGM added as an ingredient or a similar formula without it for up to 6 months of age. A breastfed reference group was included.
Infants in the formula with MFGM group showed a significant 4-point improvement in cognitive score vs. the standard formula group. No significant difference vs. the breastfed reference group was observed.3
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3. Timby N et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;99:860-868.
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5. Dewettinck K et al. Int Dairy J. 2008;18:436-457.
6. Palmano K et al. Nutrients. 2015;7:3891-3913.
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