Chr. Hansen publishes first scientific study of Human Milk Oligosaccharides mix in natural concentrations in infant formula

Chr. Hansen publishes first scientific study of Human Milk Oligosaccharides mix in natural concentrations in infant formula
The new study by Chr. Hansen is an important step to bring infant formula closer to breast milk.
Press Release | Aug 26. 2021 07:03 GMT

New study published in “Nutrients” shows safety and tolerability of infant formula containing the five most abundant Human Milk Oligosaccharides in natural concentrations

Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the third most abundant components exclusively found in human breast milk. They are known to provide benefits to infants by supporting the immune system, promoting growth of beneficial gut bacteria and supporting brain development.

Global bioscience company Chr. Hansen has conducted an HMO scientific study of an infant formula containing the five most abundant HMOs at a concentration of 5.75 gram per liter (g/l), which resembles the concentration that is naturally found in mother’s milk.

The results show good safety and tolerability of the blend of five HMOs – namely 2’-fucosyllactose, 3-fucosyllactose, lacto-N-tetraose, 3’-sialyllactose and 6’-sialyllactose – in infants. These results have just been published in the peer reviewed journal Nutrients, and it is the first publication describing the application of a complex blend of five HMOs at physiological concentrations.

The multi-center, randomized, double-blinded study was conducted in 12 different investigator sites across Europe and included 341 newborn infants that were followed over a four-month investigational period. All infants developed well and the formula containing the mix of the five HMOs in question was well tolerated. Moreover, comparable to the study group of breastfed infants, they produced softer stools at a higher frequency than the control formula group.

Bringing infant formula closer to breast milk

“We are excited to publish this study of a complex blend of five HMOs at physiological concentrations in infant formula. Breastfeeding is the best way to ensure infant health and recommended by WHO, but at Chr. Hansen, we aim to support the healthy development of infants that cannot be breastfed by providing HMOs as an ingredient and blend for infant formula in a natural concentration. The new study is an important step to bring infant formula closer to breast milk,” says Jesper Sig Mathiasen, senior vice president, Chr. Hansen HMO.

HMOs are authorized as ingredients for infant formula in North America, Europe, parts of Latin America and Asia with approvals pending in key markets such as China, India, Brazil and Argentina.

“About 150 different HMOs have been identified so far, but most infant formula products do not contain HMOs or contain only the most abundant HMO, 2’-fucosyllactose,” explains Dr. Katja Parschat, head of Research & Development, Chr. Hansen HMO. “However, the benefits of HMOs stem from the structural diversity of these sugars. They are well represented by the five HMOs studied since these account for about 30% of all HMOs in human breast milk. In a further study, we will analyze the development of the gut microbiota of the 341 infants included in the study just published to get more insight on the benefits of the HMOs on gastrointestinal health,” she concludes.

It is a strategic priority for Chr. Hansen to invest in further research to expand its expertise in this innovative field and provide more insights on the benefits of HMOs in science and in infants’ health.



The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months, followed by continued breastfeeding together with complementary foods.
Source: World Health Organization. Accessed November 26, 2020.



Chr. Hansen is a global, differentiated bioscience company that develops natural ingredient solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. At Chr. Hansen we are uniquely positioned to drive positive change through microbial solutions. We have worked for over 145 years to enable sustainable agriculture, cleaner labels and healthier living for more people around the world. Our microbial and fermentation technology platforms, including our broad and relevant collection of around 40,000 microbial strains, have game-changing potential. Matching customer needs and global trends we continue to unlock the power of good bacteria to respond to global challenges such as food waste, global health and the overuse of antibiotics and pesticides. As the world’s most sustainable biotech company, we touch the lives of more than 1 billion people every day. Driven by our legacy of innovation and curiosity to pioneer science, our purpose – To grow a better world. Naturally. – is at the heart of everything we do.

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