Staging of infant formulas

Human milk provides infants with a dynamic diet, as its protein content and composition varies during the lactation period. In this way, it adapts to the changing nutritional needs of infants as they grow and develop. Infant formula, on the other hand, is a static diet with the same composition from birth to 6 months of age.
Age-specific products can provide formula fed infants with the nutrients that correspond to the particular needs during growth and development. By replicating the dynamics of human milk, staging has the potential to reduce the gap between breastfed and formula fed infants.

The most dramatic and rapid changes in the human milk composition happens during the first weeks after birth. The initial milk produced - colostrum - is very high in protein. This protein content drops rapidly during the first month, with a much slower decline in the months that follow. While the concentration of whey is very high, casein is almost undetectable during the first days. In other words, there is no fixed ratio of whey to casein in human milk - it varies throughout lactation.

The ideal is to ensure that the infant formula has the same protein content as human milk with variations for different stages. Bioactive ingredients unique to human breast milk should also be added - these can be obtained from fractions of bovine milk. Arla Foods Ingredients provides a series of ingredients suitable for staging formulas.

A lot of attention has been drawn to staging the last years by key opinion leaders and the infant formula industry. However, currently this is just a concept as it is not legal (at least not in Europe) to market other stages than 0-6 months and 6-12 months. Nevertheless, we do believe that the legislation will be changed.

Related products: Lacprodan® ALPHA-10, Lacprodan® ALPHA-20, Lacprodan® MFGM-10, Lacprodan® PL-20 and Lacprodan® OPN-10.

Lönnerdal & Hernell, 2015. An Opinion on" Staging" of Infant Formula-A Developmental Perspective On Infant Feeding. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr In Press.

Using infant formulas is second to breastfeeding, a fact supported by WHO. This information is for professional use only.