Your milk contains Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO), a group of complex sugars, and the third most abundant component of human milk.
Over 100 different HMOs have been identified in human milk so far. Which ones are found, and in what concentration, is unique to each mother. Genetics, how many children the mother has had, the age of the nursling, and even the seasons, have been found to influence this unique HMO set in each woman.
Many HMOs cannot be digested by humans, but instead act as food for bacteria in your baby’s tummy. These bacteria help your baby to resist infection from harmful bacteria, and to develop a normal gut microbiome. The microbiome plays an enormous role in making sure the gut and immune system develop properly.
HMOs can also trick bacteria and viruses into binding to them, instead of the gut wall, preventing them from infecting your baby.
Some HMOs have the potential to reduce the risk of diarrheal diseases, one of the most common causes of infant mortality under age 5.
One HMO called DSLNT has been linked to a reduction in the risk of Necrotizing
Enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a potentially fatal disorder, most often affecting premature babies.