Oligosaccharides in Human Milk

Recorded Live Webinar

  • Description
  • Credit Hours
  • Outline



Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) are complex sugars that are highly abundant in human milk but not in infant formula. One litre of mature human milk contains 10-15g HMO, which makes it the third most abundant class of molecules after lactose and lipids and exceeds the amount of total protein. More than a hundred structurally distinct HMOs have been identified, but how these different oligosaccharides benefit the breast-fed infant remains poorly understood. HMO are considered prebiotic as they provide an advantage for potentially beneficial bacteria to colonize the infant’s intestine. In addition, HMO are considered antimicrobial as they prevent the attachment of potentially harmful microorganisms to the infant’s intestinal surface. This talk will provide a general overview of HMO structures, inter-and intrapersonal variability, metabolism and the potential benefits for the breast-fed infant. This will be followed by a close look at the most recent research results showing that a single HMO may protect the breast-fed infant from necrotizing enterocolitis, one of the most common and often fatal intestinal disorders in preterm infants. Breast-fed infants are at a significantly lower risk to develop this devastating disorder and the presence of HMO may be one explanation for the beneficial effects of breast-feeding.

1 Hour 0 Minutes
Course ID

Credit Hours

  • Nursing - 1.0 Contact Hours



  • Oligosaccharide composition in human milk
  • Structural diversity of oligosaccharides
  • Oligosaccharides as prebiotics
  • Role of oligosaccharides in promotion of infant health, including decreasing incidence of necrotizing enterocolits and mother to child HIV transmission


  • Recognize that oligosaccharides represent the third most abundant component of human milk.
  • Distinguish the oligosaccharides naturally occurring in human milk from those present in infant formula. 
  • Describe how oligosaccharides in human milk benefit the breastfed infant.


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