Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr.  2021 Nov;24(6):501-509. 10.5223/pghn.2021.24.6.501.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides as a Missing Piece in Combating Nutritional Issues during Exclusive Breastfeeding

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia – Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 2Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 3Department of Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia – Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 4Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • 5Human Nutrition Research Center, Indonesia Medical Education and Research Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

Abstract

Extensive studies have shown that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants, especially during the first six months, because it fulfills almost all of their nutritional needs. Among the many functional building blocks in breast milk, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have been receiving more attention recently. Furthermore, it is the third most common group of compounds in human milk, and studies have demonstrated the health benefits it provides for infants, including improved nutritional status. HMOs were previously known as the ‘bifidus factor’ due to their ‘bifidogenic’ or prebiotic effects, which enabled the nourishment of the gastrointestinal microbiota. Healthy gastrointestinal microbiota are intestinal health substrates that increase nutrient absorption and reduce the incidence of diarrhea. In addition, HMOs, directly and indirectly, protect infants against infections and strengthen their immune system, leading to a positive energy balance and promoting normal growth. Non-modifiable factors, such as genetics, and modifiable factors (e.g., maternal health, diet, nutritional status, environment) can influence the HMO profile. This review provides an overview of the current understanding of how HMOs can contribute to the prevention and treatment of nutritional issues during exclusive breastfeeding.

Keyword

Human milk; Oligosaccharides; Breast feeding; Nutritional status
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