Supplementation of Infant Formula with Bovine Milk Fat Globule Membranes

Adv Nutr. 2017 Mar 15;8(2):351-355. doi: 10.3945/an.116.014142. Print 2017 Mar.


Studies have shown that supplementation of infant formula with bovine milk fat globule membranes (MFGMs) may substantially narrow the gap in health outcomes between formula-fed and breastfed infants. In one study, consumption of a formula supplemented with a lipid-rich MFGM concentrate between 2 and 6 mo of age improved cognitive performance at 24 wk of age. In another study, a formula supplemented with a protein-rich MFGM concentrate given between 2 and 6 mo of age improved cognitive performance at 12 mo of age, decreased infectious morbidity until 6 mo of age, and yielded serum cholesterol concentrations closer to those of breastfed infants. A third study that assessed the safety of supplementing infant formula with a lipid-rich or a protein-rich MFGM concentrate found a noninferior weight gain for both groups compared with a nonsupplemented formula. In this study, there was an increased risk of eczema in the protein-rich group, but no serious adverse events. Infant formulas with supplemental MFGMs have been launched on the market in several countries. However, the evidence base must still be considered quite limited. Based on 3 randomized controlled trials that are not comparable, the intervention seems safe, but there is not enough evidence for a general recommendation on which MFGM fraction to use and at what concentration as formula supplement for a given outcome.

Keywords: MFGM; cholesterol; cognition; infant formula; infection; neurodevelopment; otitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Feeding
  • Cattle
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Glycolipids / administration & dosage*
  • Glycoproteins / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry*
  • Lipid Droplets
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Weight Gain


  • Glycolipids
  • Glycoproteins
  • milk fat globule
  • Cholesterol