Background: In a recent study, supplementation of infant formula with milk fat globule membranes (MFGM) decreased the incidence of otitis media in infants <6 months of age.
Objectives: The aim of the present study was to characterize the oral microbiota in infants fed MFGM-supplemented formula and compare it to that of infants fed standard formula or breast milk.
Methods: In a prospective double-blinded randomized controlled trial, exclusively formula-fed infants <2 months of age were randomized to be fed experimental formula (EF, n = 80) with reduced energy and protein and supplemented with a bovine MFGM concentrate, or standard formula (SF, n = 80) until 6 months of age. A breast-fed reference (BFR, n = 80) group was also recruited. The oral microbiota was analyzed at 4 (n = 124) and 12 (n = 166) months of age using Illumina MiSeq multiplex sequencing and taxonomic resolution against the HOMD 16S rDNA database of oral bacteria.
Results: Species richness in the oral samples did not differ between the EF and SF groups, but partial least square modeling identified a few taxa that were significantly associated with being in either group, e.g. lower level of Moraxella catarrhalis in the EF group. Infants in the BFR group had significantly lower species richness at 4 months of age and their microbiota pattern differed markedly from the formula-fed groups.
Conclusions: Supplementation of infant formula with MFGM yielded moderate effects on the oral microbiome. Moraxella catarrhalis was less prevalent in infants fed EF than in those fed SF and may be associated with the decrease in otitis media seen in the same group.