Food and Behaviour Research

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Enriched infant formula linked to fewer behavioral problems in toddlers: Study

Stephen Daniells

bottle feeding

Infant formula enriched with milk fat globule membrane, omega-3 fatty acids, and synbiotics may lead to fewer behavioral problems up to 2.5 years of age, says a study from Spain.

18/12/2020 - Nutraingredients 

Infant formula enriched with milk fat globule membrane, omega-3 fatty acids, and synbiotics may lead to fewer behavioral problems up to 2.5 years of age, says a study from Spain.

“Our results seem to suggest that the infant formula enriched with specific functional nutrients might be related to better psycho-behavioral development in children aged 2.5 years compared to those who were fed with a standard infant formula,” wrote the authors, led by scientists from the University of Granada, in the journal Nutrients.

“Interestingly, behavioral development in children who received bioactive compound-enriched infant formula during their first 18 months of life seemed to closely resemble those who were breastfed.”

The scientists also noted that the mothers’ IQ and educational level were also associated with their children’s behavioral development.

Study details

In outlining the reason for the study, the Spain-based scientists acknowledged that while early life nutrition is known to influence brain development and mental health, what remains unclear is how long-term effects of supplemented infant formula may impact children’s behavior.

To elucidate this, they analyzed data from 70 children fed either a standard infant formula or infant formula enriched with milk fat globule membrane components, synbiotics combinations of fructooligosaccharides and inulin plus Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis CECT7210 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus LCS-742, long-chain omega-3s, gangliosides, sialic acid and nucleotides. Both infant formulas were provided by Laboratorios Ordesa, S.L. (Barcelona, Spain). The children were fed the formula during the first 18 months of their lives and followed until they were 2.5. A control group of 33 breastfed children was also included.

Evaluations using the Child Behavior Checklist indicated that children fed the enriched formula exhibited fewer pathological affective problems at 2.5, compared to the children fed the standard formula.

In addition, children fed the standard formula had higher rates of externalizing problems compared to the enriched formula and breastfed children.

Commenting on potential future studies, the authors noted that there may be “an opportunity to improve infant formulas bringing them closer to the composition and functionality of human milk that may favor an optimal behavioral development of children”.