The future of infant nutrition
Human milk provides infants with the ultimate start to life, containing a wide variety of nutrients and several components that support healthy growth, a well-developed immune system and a strong intestinal flora. But not every mother breastfeeds. Recent technological advances have resulted in the development of some of these important and healthful components of human milk. Known as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), some are now commercially available and can help narrow the gap between breastfeeding and infant formula feeding.
Breastfeeding is promoted by global organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who recommend that infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding to up to two years of age or even older. According to WHO, only approximately 36 per cent of infants aged 0–6 months worldwide were exclusively breastfed between 2007-2014. Therefore, it is of vital importance to continue to improve infant formula in order to offer formula-fed infants some of the benefits of human milk during this critical development time.
HMOs are a unique group of complex carbohydrates found in human milk. After lactose and fat, HMOs are the third-most-abundant solid component of human milk, with the most common HMO being 2’-fucosyllactose (2’FL) ~ 2.4g/L. The types and levels of HMOs present vary greatly among women and can even fluctuate from one feed to the next. The HMO concentration is generally higher during the early stages of lactation. Other influencing factors include the time of d ...