Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO)

The importance of Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) for the development of a healthy microbiome in infants is a fascinating and complex topic that delves deep into the biochemistry of mother's milk.

The most common HMOs in mother's milk

2'-Fucosyllactose (2'-FL): As the most commonly occurring HMO in many samples of mother's milk, 2'-FL plays a crucial role in prebiotic nutrition and promotes the growth of Bifidobacteria. It consists chemically of a fucose attached to lactose.

Lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT): This HMO supports the development of the immune system and consists of a lactose unit to which N-Acetylglucosamine and galactose are attached.

3-Fucosyllactose (3-FL): 3-FL is similar to 2'-FL in its structure, but with a different binding site for fucose. It also contributes to immune modulation.

Importance of HMOs for the Baby Microbiome

Microbiome Development: HMOs serve as food for important gut bacteria such as Bifidobacteria, which are essential for the baby's digestion and immune system.

Protective Function: Some HMOs block pathogens, preventing their attachment to the intestinal wall and thus contributing to protection against infections.

Immune Modulation: HMOs are involved in the development of the immune system and promote a healthy gut flora.

HMOs in Scientific Research

Diverse Structures and Functions: The over 200 different structures of HMOs are the subject of intensive research. These studies reveal a profound understanding of the role of HMOs in the health and development of infants.

Long-term Effects: There is evidence that HMOs could offer health benefits beyond infancy.

HMOs and Infant Nutrition

While research continues to highlight the importance of HMOs in mother's milk, efforts are also being made in the development of infant nutrition to mimic some of these benefits. However, the focus here is on the natural composition and function of HMOs in mother's milk.