Breast Milk

    Promoting Breast Milk

    Breast milk is naturally perfect for infants, providing unique benefits to mother and baby. Let’s look at some of the key components and benefits:


    Antibodies found in breast milk include sIgA, IgM and IgG, which are critical in the development of the immune system1.


    Cytokines influence the body’s response to infection and inflammation and play an important role in the immune system2. Research also indicates they may be protective against the development of some allergies3.

    Fatty Acids

    Breast milk is primarily comprised of lipids, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids like DHA and ARA which have been found to be a major contributor in brain and eye development4.


    Hormones such as calcitonin, somatostatin, adiponectin and leptin influence brain development, growth and help regulate metabolism and body composition2.

    Breastfeeding is recommended, but not always the choice of parents

    Some parents do not have that choice or look to supplement with formula.

    According to the CDC, over 80% of infants receive some breast milk. However, by three months, more than half of infants are either exclusively formula-feeding or are being supplemented with formula5.

    Guiding parents when infant formula choice is made

    Infant formula manufacturers strive to emulate breast milk in composition, nutrients and outcomes. Because breast milk is a dynamic food, changing throughout the stages of lactation, and even within a feeding, formula manufacturers look to identify key components that will allow formula to more closely mirror the functions and outcomes of breast milk.

    What key nutrients offer important benefits in infant formulas?


    Human milk oligosaccharides, prebiotics found in breast milk, serve to feed the infant gut microbiome. Many infant formulas now have similar oligosaccharides, including galactooligosaccharides (GOS), polydextrose (PDX), 2'-Fucosyllactose (2’FL), and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), all of which function as prebiotics.


    Lactoferrin is an important bioactive protein that binds iron and acts as an antioxidant2. Some infant formulas now have bovine lactoferrin added, as the structure and function are similar to human lactoferrin6,7.

    MFGM (Milk Fat Globule Membrane)

    Previously unavailable in infant formula, an innovation in dairy processing now enables this key membrane, which houses important proteins and components involved in brain development, to be added6. MFGM is a brain-building ingredient clinically shown to improve developmental milestones at 1 year*.


    This important component is found in mature breast milk at 0.32% of total fatty acids. DHA at this amount has been shown to provide short- and long-term cognitive benefits.

    Formula with lactoferrin and MFGM leads to improved outcomes in infants8

    Science on Lactoferrin

    A formula choice close to breast milk that has most of the components discussed above.

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    * As measured by Bayley-III cognitive score at 12 months.
    † Average amount of DHA in breast milk worldwide is 0.32% ± 0.22% (mean ± standard deviation of total fatty acids) based on an analysis of 65 studies of 2474 women9.


    1. Hurley WL, Theil PK. Perspectives on immunoglobulins in colostrum and milk. Nutrients. 2011;3:442-474.
    2. Ballard O, Morrow AL. Human milk composition: Nutrients and bioactive factors. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013;60:49-74.
    3. Dawod B, Marshall JS. Cytokines and soluble receptors in breast milk as enhancers of oral tolerance development. Front Immunol. 2019;10:16. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00016.
    4. Koletzko B et al. Physiological aspects of human milk lipids. Early Hum Dev. 2001;65(suppl):S3-S18.
    5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Facts: breastfeeding. December 2019. Accessed July 22, 2020.
    6. Lönnerdal B. Infant formula and infant nutrition: Bioactive proteins of human milk and implications for composition of infant formulas. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;99(suppl):712S-717S.
    7. Donovan SM. The role of lactoferrin in gastrointestinal and immune development and function: A preclinical perspective. J Pediatr. 2016;173(suppl):S16-S28.
    8. Li F et al. Improved neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with bovine milk fat globule membrane and lactoferrin in infant formula: A randomized, controlled trial. J Pediatr. 2019;215:24-31.e8.
    9. Brenna JT et al. Docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid concentrations in human breast milk worldwide. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:1457-1464.