Nestlé translates infant brain development discovery into 'NutriLearn' product

By Nikki Hancocks contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Pilin Petunyia
Getty | Pilin Petunyia

Related tags: infant development, Infant formula products, Nestlé, Infant nutrition, Infant formula, Australia

Nestlé scientists have identified a nutrient blend of components found in breast milk which is essential for brain health and created a new product utilising this blend.

The team of scientists discovered a blend of phospholipids, vitamins, fatty acids and minerals found in breastmilk relevant for the formation of myelin, a lipid-rich sheath that insulates and protects nerve fibres crucial for cognitive and behavioural development.

They then tested the efficacy of this nutrient blend in increasing myelin in healthy, term infants through their randomised controlled trial​ which revealed the nutritional impact on brain structure development as early as 3 and 6 months of life.

“In our scientific work we connected different fields of our research expertise, including infant nutrition and cognitive development, before embarking into a first-of-its-kind clinical study. Our R&D teams developed novel approaches, such as measuring specific nutrients in breast milk, or visualizing and quantifying myelin in the developing brain.”​, says Eline Van der Beek, head of the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences at Nestlé Research. “Thanks to our scientific advances we now have an even better understanding of the unique components of breast milk and the role early nutrition plays in brain development.”

Nestlé then translated this knowledge and developed a product called Nutrilearn Connect, a distinct nutrient blend clinically shown to increase myelination over the first months of life. The blend has been launched in Hong Kong under the WYETH S-26 ULTIMA brand and will be rolled out in other markets in the next few months.  


Myelination is a cornerstone of human neurodevelopment ensuring coordinated communication between brain cells and networks. It has been positively associated with cognitive ability throughout postnatal development (~6.5–16 months) as well as in children and adults, making it an important research target for strategies that support brain, cognitive, and learning development.

Brain development is particularly rapid in the first years of life and requires nurturing care, such as nutrition. Nutritional deficiencies, such as iron, vitamin B12, and folate, have been associated with hypomyelination, altered myelin composition, or decreased myelin synthesis. 

The Study

Nestlé's researchers, in collaboration with scientists and clinicians at Rhode Island Hospital and Pennington Biomedical Research Center, USA, conducted a two-center, double-blind, randomised controlled investigational trial in neurotypical term-born children to compare the effect of a nutrient blend containing DHA, ARA, iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and SM (from a uniquely processed whey protein concentrate enriched in alpha-lactalbumin and phospholipids) in the first year of life.

The aforementioned study report provides the six-month results. The follow-up visits are still ongoing while the 12-month intervention period has closed for all enrolled children. 

Significant differences in myelin structure, volume, and rate of myelination were observed in favour of the investigational myelin blend at three and six months of life. Effects were demonstrated for whole brain myelin and for cerebellar, parietal, occipital, and temporal regions, known to be functionally involved in sensory, motor, and language skills. No statistically significant differences were found for early behaviour or cognition scores.

Limitations include the smaller sample size than expected, environmental factors such as cognitive stimulation and parenting behaviour, the investigational exploratory nature of the study, and the fact the myelin imaging data were only analysable from one of the two study sites due to acquisition issues with the myelin sequence.


Source: Frontiers in Nutrition

"A Nutrient Formulation Affects Developmental Myelination in Term Infants: A Randomized Clinical Trial"

Authors: Schneider Nora, Bruchhage Muriel M. K., O'Neill Barry V., Hartweg Mickaël, Tanguy Jérôme, Steiner Pascal, Mutungi Gisella, O'Regan Jonathan, Mcsweeney Séamus, D'Sa Viren, and Deoni Sean C. L.

Related news

Related products

show more

Attract a new generation of omega-3 consumers

Attract a new generation of omega-3 consumers

DSM Nutritional Products | 15-Sep-2022 | Infographic

Want to bring your next omega-3 innovation to market quickly and sustainably? DSM's algal-sourced life's™OMEGA, enables you to get consumer-driven,...

Improve DOMS and Postexercise Lactate Accumulation

Improve DOMS and Postexercise Lactate Accumulation

Gencor-Pacific | 08-Sep-2022 | Clinical Study

Hydrocurc®’s clinical study suggests that a highly bioavailable curcumin may facilitate a quicker return to exercise training and/or allow a higher training...

DurOmega® Algal DHA 20% water dispersible powder

DurOmega® Algal DHA 20% water dispersible powder

INNOBIO Corporation Limited | 30-May-2022 | Technical / White Paper

INNOBIO most recently launched a new product DurOmega® Algal DHA 20% water dispersible powder with significantly reduced fishy odor and taste, which optimizes...

Total Solutions for Cognitive Health by Lubrizol

Total Solutions for Cognitive Health by Lubrizol

Lipofoods, a Lubrizol Company | 05-May-2022 | Technical / White Paper

Globally, health and wellbeing have shifted from a focus on physical health and nutrition to also include cognitive and mental wellness, therefore consumers...

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more