Arla and H&H partner in infant nutrition research with APC Microbiome Ireland

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Pilin Petunyia
Getty | Pilin Petunyia

Related tags Research early life nutrition microbiome Gut health

Arla Foods Ingredients has partnered with experts at the health and nutrition firm Health and Happiness Group (H&H) and researchers at APC Microbiome Ireland to collaborate on a project focused on diet for early-life cognitive development.

The one year project between the two early life nutrition manufacturers and world-leading Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) research centre will investigate new opportunities for early life nutritional interventions.

Leading the project from APC’s Brain-Gut-Microbiota research programme are Drs Siobhain O’Mahony and Harriet Schellekens, who will determine if certain dietary changes can reduce the effects of early life stress on brain development while also investigating potential impacts on learning and memory.

The joint research will focus on investigating the potential impacts of nutritional milk-based ingredients to alleviate stress induced cognitive impairment in early life stages. 

Dr Siobhain O’Mahony of APC says: “Targeting the microbiome to support brain health is an emerging concept in neuroscience. This research aims to understand the role of specific milk-based ingredients in the infant microbiome and reducing the negative impact of stress on early-life cognitive development.”

The APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre specialises in bringing together researchers, clinicians and industry to develop microbiome based knowledge, solutions and products to tackle societal challenges and support economic growth. Since its establishment in 2003, it has become a global leader in microbiome research

This is the first time APC has brought together two commercial partners on a collaborative research project that will help advance our understanding of the potential benefits of early life nutritional interventions for brain development.

The research will mainly be conducted at the APC laboratories in University College Cork and at Health and Happiness Research laboratories in the National Food Innovation Hub, Moorepark, in Ireland.

Dr Jonathan Lane, Associated Director of Research and Innovation for Health and Happiness Research, comments: “As a leading provider of premium infant nutritional products that can support gut health, immunity and brain development, we are committed to investing in science that supports the development of innovative solutions for our consumers, and we look forward to working with APC and Arla Food Ingredients on this joint project.”

Anne Staudt Kvistgaard, Head of Pediatric Nutrition at Arla Foods Ingredients adds: “This research underlines our continued commitment to investigate how dairy components can support brain and development processes during infancy, which is a critical period of rapid cognitive development. We look forward to working with Health and Happiness Group and APC on this project.”


Headquartered in Honk Kong, H&H focuses on the development of finished products that benefit consumers' wellbeing. The group aims to provide evidence-based products with new ingredients, innovation formulations and disruptive technologies across the baby, adult and pet nutrition and care segments.
The firm also plays a role in advancing scientific expertise in maternal and infant health, with two dedicated institutes in China and Switzerland – the Biostime Institute for Nutrition and Care.
H&H invests in science and technology with the following key focus areas: premium and preventative nutrition, microbiome health, immunity, and wellness.

The firm has developed the Biostime brand which is a top probiotics brand worldwide in the paediatric field.

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