＂We are all what we eat ＂: the progression of personalized infant nutrition
The infant formula industry has claimed that the past 20 years was the peak period of DHA formula; then 10 years later, the key point of infant milk was turning to OPO formula; and in the future 10 year, infant formula will step into HMO era. Statistic shows, the CGAR of global HMO market will peak to 14.6%, market assessment will exceed USD 76 million in 2027. The market growth is contribute by the continually increase application of HMO in infant nutrition product. It is no doubt that HMO will become the trend of infant formula.
HMO, a complex mixture of oligosaccharides that naturally exist in human milk, has crucial biological functions to human body. At the present stage, studies about HMOs are mainly focusing on the anti-infection function of gut micrbiome, gut intestinal micro-ecology balance, immunoreaction improvement and infant brain development. Facing the new trend, Abbot and Nestle have already promoted HMO infant formula products and tired to seize the market.
As the HMO formula becoming more and more popular, some industrial players claim that 2'-FL and LNnT are the only HMO components naturally and mainly exist in human milk, they can replace the traditional human milk oligosaccharide substitutes: GOS and FOS, to achieve the better human milk healthy functions and immunity improvement. However, this statement is controversial.
From now, study results show human milk oligosaccharide can be identified as two major types: neutral oligosaccharide and acid oligosaccharide. Neutral oligosaccharide include Fucose free oligosaccharide and Fucosylated oligosaccharide, they dominate 70% of human milk oligosaccharide； acid oligosaccharide include Sialylated oligosaccharide and Sulphated Oligosaccharide which are occupying 30 % of human milk oligosaccharide. Furthermore, human milk can be defied as secretory human milk and non-secretory human milk. Different human milk will have various effects to the infant’s gut microbiome, physical growth and health. It is obvious that to precisely simulate the functions of natural human milk oligosaccharide in infant formula is becoming more and more challenging because of the differences.
（American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2017）
Recently, a research related to HMO demonstrated that the components and content of HMO are individually different, they will also affect by genes, territory, environment and other factors. The research program collected HMO samples from 11 different regions including both cities and rural areas of Ethiopia and Gambia, Ghana and Kenya from Africa； Sweden and Spanish from Europe; California and Washington D.C from the United States; Peru form South America. 40 samples were collected in each region, and all the samples were collected, stored and analyzed under the same rules.
Surprisingly, the research found that, Oligosaccharide concentrations in milk produced by women vary geographically. Even though the mothers are from the same country, their HMO’s spectroscopic characteristics are different: HMOs from mothers who live in the city area are different from the mothers who live in rural areas. Theoretically, the city population and the rural population in a country are from the same ethnic, the researchers concluded that different living environment would lead HMO differences. Samples from two areas of the United States: California and Washington D.C. also presented that although the participants’ body dataset and reproduction background are similar; their HMO characteristics will be different. Genes, Epigenetics and other potential factors are also playing an important role in HMO differences.
(The chief Scientist of QHT: Dr. Wei Yuanan)
QHT’s “Sugar Mommy” project which target to the Chinese local population also discovered the HMO component differences from secretory human milk and non-secretory human milk. HMO components from secretory human milk are more abundant than the HMO components from non-secretory human milk.
That means the components of HMO are various, they are closely associated with the mother’s genes, ethnic, territory, life style and the living environment. In HMO formula products, the content of each component in HMO should to be adjusted according to the needs of the baby. Therefore, simply apply HMO in the infant formula to imitate human milk will not achieve an ideal effect. HMO needs the support of prebiotics.
“We are all what we eat ”. Respecting the personality of human being，personalized the infant nutrition. In China, the human milk substitute products should be developed properly, instead of blindly following the solution from other countries. Infant nutrition research and development should apply the localized scientific references.