Association of complex lipids containing gangliosides with cognitive development of 6-month-old infants

Early Hum Dev. 2012 Aug;88(8):595-601. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Jan 29.


Background: Human breastmilk contains gangliosides which may play an important role in infant neurodevelopment.

Aim: A pilot study was conducted to assess the impact of infant formula supplemented with gangliosides from complex milk lipid on cognitive functions of normal healthy infants.

Study design: The study was a double-blind, randomized, controlled, parallel group clinical trial in which infants received the treatment or control product from 2 to 8 weeks of age until 24 weeks of age. The control group (n=30) received standard infant formula and the treatment group (n=29) received the same formula supplemented with complex milk lipid to increase the ganglioside content to approximately 11 to 12 μg/ml. A reference group (n=32) consisted of normal healthy exclusively breast-fed infants.

Outcome measures: Cognitive development using the Griffith Scales and serum gangliosides was measured before (2-8 weeks of age) and after intervention (24 weeks of age).

Results: Ganglioside supplementation using complex milk lipids significantly increased ganglioside serum levels (control group vs treatment group, P=0.002) and resulted in increased scores for Hand and Eye coordination IQ (P<0.006), Performance IQ (P<0.001) and General IQ (P=0.041). Cognitive development scores and serum ganglioside levels for the treatment group did not differ from the reference group.

Conclusions: Supplementation of infant formula with complex milk lipid to enhance ganglioside content appears to have beneficial effects on cognitive development in healthy infants aged 0-6 months, which may be related to increased serum ganglioside levels.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Cognition* / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Gangliosides / administration & dosage*
  • Gangliosides / blood
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Neuropsychological Tests


  • Gangliosides