NEOCOL - Colostrum for newborns – University of Copenhagen

NEOCOL - Colostrum for newborns

NEOCOL is a research program aiming at providing documentation for an optimal high-quality, cost-effective Danish colostrum product to be used as a first feed or supplement for preterm infants to improve the nutritional care for preterm infants world-wide.

Own mother’s milk (MM) is the preferred diet for preterm infants but is often unavailable, insufficient or deficient in nutrients, especially during the first weeks of life. We hypothesize that a bovine colostrum (COL) supplement to MM or donor human milk (DM) improves outcomes, relative to infant formula (IF) products. Our aim is to provide documentation for a high quality, cost-effective COL product that can be used for preterm infants worldwide by the end of the project.

Specific goals

Innovative scope
It is commonly accepted that the best existing alternative to MM for preterm infants is DM from human milk banks. However, DM is only available at few hospitals worldwide and is very costly when used as the sole diet (≈5,000 DKK/child) or as a concentrated nutrient fortifier to MM for the first weeks or months (up to 100,000 DKK/child). A third alternative, IF, is associated with more gut problems, infections and neurological complications than DM and especially MM.

Processing conditions (e.g. heat pasteurization, drying, storage) may reduce the bioactivity of both DM and IF products. IF products are used only for preterm infants when human milk is unavailable, or to enrich MM or DM with more nutrients. The first milk from cows, COL, supports gut and immunity development in both calves and pigs.

Our preliminary studies indicate the safety and benefits of COL in preterm infants. NEOCOL documents the basic and applied effects of COL that are required for COL to become clinically relevant for preterm infants. Use of COL for this highly sensitive patient group requires detailed documentation of the COL source, collection procedures, processing effects and its biological safety and efficacy.

Through NEOCOL, we develop an effective and relatively inexpensive natural supplement to MM, and an alternative to DM- and IF-based products, for newborn hospitalized preterm infants around the world.