Breast milk sugars can protect babies from deadly diarrhoea
Jennewein Biotechnologie discusses the importance of adding human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) to infant formula to better emulate the benefits of breast milk.
In the late 19th century, scientists made the vital discovery that breast-fed infants suffered less often from killer ailments like infectious diarrhoea – but the reason why eluded them. At the time up to three children in ten died before they reached a year old. There must have been something about human milk, because breast-fed children had a much higher chance of survival and had lower incidences of many diseases than bottle-fed infants.
Today we know that sugar-based molecules, known as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), help us resist the pathogenic bacteria that drive diarrhoea in many ways, some of them unique. As such HMOs, both in natural breast milk and added to infant formula, can help reduce the suffering diarrhoea causes children.