Spotlight on HMO innovation: dsm-firmenich at ESPGHAN 2023

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors



  • Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are an essential component of human milk, and ongoing research continues to reveal many potential health benefits.
  • At the 55th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) between 17-20 May 2023, we hosted an expert Q&A panel that explored the role of HMOs in early life nutrition. We also showcased our extensive portfolio of science-backed nutritional solutions for mothers and babies.
  • Read on to learn more about our participation at ESPGHAN 2023 and our industry-leading innovations in infant and maternal nutrition.  

From preconception to the first 1,000 days of life, it’s essential to ensure adequate nutrition for mothers and babies to support optimal infant growth and development. However, meeting specific nutritional needs during these critical periods may not always be possible through regular diets alone.

As a leader in maternal and infant nutrition innovation, we proudly presented our extensive portfolio of science-backed nutritional solutions at ESPGHAN 2023 in Vienna. This industry-leading event was an exciting opportunity to share the latest scientific insights, solutions and best practices for supporting healthier mothers and babies.

A deep dive into HMO innovation

To better support infant health and help bring the composition and functionality of infant formula closer to human milk, our team of scientific experts continue to drive cutting-edge research in this field. Sharing the latest findings on the potential benefits of HMOs, we hosted a Product Theatre Q&A Session titled ‘HMO Innovations for Early Life Nutrition: Inspired by Nature, Supported by Science’.

This session was moderated by James Young, Vice President of Early Life Nutrition at dsm-firmenich, and featured expert insights from Niels Banke, Chief Scientific Officer for HMOs at dsm-firmenich, and Dr. Lars Bode, Director of the Human Milk Institute at the University of California. The panel addressed key questions on human milk composition, HMO production, structures, classes, health benefits and innovation opportunities. The session also included a demonstration of various HMO ingredients, ranging from 2’FL to 6’SL.

Missed the product theatre Q&A? It’s not too late to access these exclusive expert insights.

Paving the way for emerging HMO research

At ESPGHAN 2023, we not only shared our expertise but also contributed to advancing HMO research. Through the HMO Donation Program, established in 2010, we’ve supported over 100 research projects and counting, by opening applications for HMO donation to all healthcare professionals, researchers and academics interested in this field of research. The program accesses our HMO library, which contains nearly 20 different HMO structures and mixtures to aid beneficiaries across 55 different research centers globally.

Nutritional care through the motherhood journey

Along with HMOs for early life nutrition, we presented our extensive portfolio of nutritional solutions to support maternal health from conception to lactation at ESPGHAN. Many attendees visited the dsm-firmenich team at booth 47 in the exhibition area to discuss nutritional challenges at different stages of motherhood and explore innovative ways to better meet moms’ nutritional needs.

Our proprietary maternal nutrition research revealed that only 1 in 2 women have consumed pregnancy-specific multivitamin supplements, despite 3 in 4 being willing to take fertility-related supplements.1 This finding suggests significant market potential to develop solutions that support both fertility and conception. Showcasing our expertise in science-backed maternal nutritional solutions, the dsm-firmenich booth highlighted the potential role of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in conception,2 reducing preterm birth risk,3 and more.

Attendees also learned about novel ways to tap into the growing maternal nutrition market opportunity with our innovative algal-based omega-3s. This natural and more sustainable source of DHA is an alternative to fish oil that effectively supports moms’ nutritional needs, providing them with peace of mind.

Supporting brighter lives

Giving babies the best possible start in life requires the right nutritional care. However, supporting mothers and infants – from preconception and pregnancy through the first 1,000 days of life – takes more than an ingredient supplier. It takes a partner.

As experts in maternal and early life nutrition, dsm-firmenich offers a complete portfolio of innovative purpose-led nutritional solutions that can support healthier pregnancies and provide mothers and babies with better opportunities to lead brighter lives. From HMOs to omega-3 DHA, we’re committed to delivering customizable, science-backed maternal and infant nutrition solutions, complemented by unrivaled expert services and regulatory know-how to take your next product idea from concept to consumer quickly.

Learn more about Human Milk Oligosaccharides and how dsm-firmenich is transforming early life nutrition with truly innovative HMO solutions that meet evolving consumer needs, or get in touch with a dsm-firmenich expert and discover opportunities to co-create truly innovative HMO solutions that support optimal infant development.

Published on

20 June 2023


5 min read

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  1. dsm-firmenich (2023) Maternal Health Attitude & Behaviour Study, Global Report via IPSOS Switzerland, n=4,500 [unpublished]. 
  2. Stanhiser, J. et al., ‘Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and fecundability’, Human Reproduction, vol. 37, no. 5, 2022, p. 1037-1046.
  3. Carlson, S.E. et al., ‘Higher dose docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during pregnancy and early preterm birth: a randomised, double-blind, adaptive design superiority trial’, E Clinical Medicine, vol 36, 2021.

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