MFGM (Milk Fat Globule Membrane): The Latest Breakthrough in Infant Nutrition

A baby's brain increases 175 percent in size during the first 12 months of life,1 making it a critical window of opportunity to optimize nutrition. To ensure babies get the best possible nourishment, scientists and researchers have worked for decades to develop infant formulas using the composition and functional outcomes of human milk as a guide. This work has led to another significant advancement in the infant formula category since the introduction of DHA 17 years ago – the addition of MFGM as an ingredient.

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MFGM is a naturally occurring three-layer membrane that encloses roughly 200 proteins and a variety of complex lipids, including phospholipids and glycolipids that are nutritionally important for developing infants.2 This trilayer membrane surrounds every fat droplet in mom's breast milk, with an inner core that has lipids such as long-chain fatty acids. What's important to early childhood nutrition is that MFGM has compounds that support neuronal growth3 and promote myelination and synaptic transmission, important processes in brain development.4

Infants Fed Formula with MFGM Show Improvement on the Bayley-III Cognitive Scale:

cmfgm infant formula chart

A clinical study showed that adding MFGM as an ingredient to formula helps close the gap in cognitive development between formula-fed and breastfed infants.

This study found that when infants were fed formula with MFGM added as an ingredient for up to 6 months, they had a four-point improvement in cognitive development at 12 months, based on the Bayley-III Cognitive Scale, compared to those fed a similar formula without MFGM as an ingredient. Furthermore, infants fed formula with MFGM showed no significant difference in cognitive scores compared to the breastfed reference group.5

Similar to DHA, MFGM is an important breakthrough in innovating infant formulas with brain-building benefits similar to breast milk, ensuring parents and caregivers can provide excellent nutrition options for their infants, even when breast milk is not an option.

The Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development are a series of measurements designed to assess the development of children. The most recent version, the Bayley-III Scale, measures cognitive, language, motor, social-emotional and adaptive behavior. The cognitive component features a scale of 55-145 measured on tests correlated to attention to familiar and unfamiliar objects, and problem solving.

Parents and caregivers will begin to see more formulas options with MFGM added as an ingredient this year – helping babies reach those important cognitive milestones in the first year of life.

1 Dobbing J, Sands J. Quantitative growth and development of the human brain. Arch Dis Child. 1973;48:757-767.

2 Dewettinck K, Rombaut R, Thienpont N, et al. Nutritional and technological aspects of milk fat globule membrane material. Int Dairy J. 2008;18:436-457.

3 Vance JE, Campenot RB, Vance DE. The synthesis and transport of lipids for axonal growth and nerve regeneration. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000;1486:84-96.

4 Palmano K, Rowan A, Guillermo R, et al. The role of gangliosides in neurodevelopment. Nutrients. 2015;7:3891-3913. McJarrow P, Schnell N, Jumpsen J, et al. Influence of dietary gangliosides on neonatal brain development. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(8):451-463.

5 Timby N, Domellöf E, Hernell O, et al. Neurodevelopment, nutrition, and growth until 12 mo of age in infants fed a low-energy, low-protein formula supplemented with bovine milk fat globule membranes: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;99:860-868.