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Formula Is Getting Closer to Breast Milk Than Ever

An ingredient called milk fat globule membrane might be the biggest innovation since DHA.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
June 4, 2018
mom feeding her baby formula
Image: iStock

Every formula feeding mom feels the pressure to breastfeed. And every formula feeding mom has probably had to defend her decision at least once. The fact of the matter is that while breast milk is best for baby’s development, breastfeeding isn’t always possible. That’s why a formula ingredient that’s closer to breast milk composition is a pretty big deal.

We’re talking about milk fat globule membrane, or MFGM—a component found in breast milk that’s also now a formula ingredient. This component, made of over 100 different proteins and fats, surrounds the fat droplets in breast milk, and comes with important brain-building benefits.

If you’ve already started looking into infant formulas, you’ve probably seen that most of them have DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that also supports cognitive development. Enfamil NeuroPro formula attempts to harness the power of both of these ingredients with a unique fat-protein blend of MFGM and DHA,* previously only found in breast milk.

“We found that MFGM is present in mammal milk,” says physician-scientist and neonatologist Christina J. Valentine, MD, MS, RD, FAAP, who serves as the medical director for Reckitt Benckiser/Mead Johnson Nutrition. She tells The Bump Mead Johnson teamed up with dairy science professionals to learn how to put MFGM into infant formula. “This innovation is key because emerging evidence suggests that MFGM in infant formula may be an important step in helping close the cognitive development gap between formula-fed and breastfed infants,” Valentine says.

Valentine says that previously, using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, studies showed formula-fed had a four-point gap in cognition compared to breastfed babies. But when that formula has MFGM, it helps bring those cognition scores even closer.

So what type of baby is Enfamil NeuroPro intended for? Valentine says it’s best when “mother’s milk is not available.” Still, she urges parents to check with their pediatrician if baby is having feeding issues.

**In amounts supported by clinical research.

This article has been updated throughout with new information in October 2019.

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