Human Milk Oligosaccharides in the Milk of Mothers Delivering Term versus Preterm Infants

Austin S, De Castro CA, Sprenger N et al.

Human milk is the optimal source of nutrition for infants. In preterm neonates, human milk feeding is known to have several important specific protective actions and it is strongly encouraged too.

Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the 4th most abundant component of human milk after water, lipids and lactose, and are postulated to play an important role in protecting infants from infection, by acting as decoy receptors or through modulation of the gut microbiota. They may also modulate the immune system through direct interactions and may act as a dietary source of sialic acid, potentially important for learning and memory. 

While the composition of preterm milk has been investigated, and itis reported to be slightly different from that of term milk, there are relatively few studies focusing on the human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) composition of preterm milk.

This study reports the composition and trajectories of several different HMOs analyzed in preterm and term milk at equivalent stage of lactation and equivalent postmenstrual age. The observed differences warrant further investigation in view of their potential clinical impact.