QHT flags specific HMO formula needs for Chinese babies
09 Sep 2020 --- Quantum Hi-Tech Biological (QHT) is exploring formula developed specifically for Chinese babies. The Guangzhou-based company uncovered that the human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) found in Chinese breast milk differ from those of other nationalities.
“We are sure that babies would benefit from having region-specific formulas,” Dr. Zhanxi Hao, Assistant Director of QHT’s Quantum Bio Institute, tells NutritionInsight. He is also one of the study authors, which has been published in Current Developments in Nutrition.
The findings are touted as bringing QHT a step closer to the goal of developing “the best human milk substitute formula” for Chinese babies.
Dr. Hao explains that many mothers in China currently choose infant formula milk directly imported from the Western world.
“Therefore, it is surprising to find differences between HMO profiles, especially 2’-FL levels of secretors, of Chinese and Western mothers. The finding implies that it is better to choose infant formula milk tailored for Chinese babies.”
Differing 2’-FL levels between global populations
The researchers collected and analyzed 822 milk samples from 222 Chinese mothers. Dynamic changes were seen in 24 HMOs in secretors and non-secretors during the lactation period.
Notably, 77 percent of Chinese mothers secreted 2’-FL, which was lower than those of North and South American populations (over 95 percent) but higher than those of African populations (less than 70 percent).
Although 2’-FL concentrations were highest at the start of lactation in all regions, concentrations of 2’-FL in secretor mothers differed considerably. The study found that the mean concentration of 2′-FL in Chinese colostrum was 3.02 g per L.
Previous investigations had found mean concentrations of 3.93 g per L and 4.13 g per L for Italian and German mothers, respectively. Meanwhile, preterm South African mothers had just 1.23 g per L in their colostrum.
Additionally, HMO differences among Chinese mothers were triggered by the various Lewis blood types.
Building a database
Dr. Hao explains that although lifestyle can exert an effect on the subgroups of the same population, the genetic background is the most important factor for regional differences.
The study marks the company’s initial effort to build an HMO database of Chinese mothers. QHT flags that longitudinal studies of this group are lacking.
The findings will now be integrated into QHT’s Chinese HMO database. In the future, the company plans to mine data to help guide the precise formulation of HMOs in formula milk. Dr. Hao says the findings and follow-ups improve the R&D process.
HMOs have been an area of great interest across industry as it strives to mimic breast milk as closely as possible. Last month, Conagen created a proprietary process for the scalable production of a non-GMO HMO. Meanwhile, DuPont has been investigating the nutrient for oral care and adult supplementation.
By Katherine Durrell
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