SourceUSC Press Room

Discoveries in breast milk have been obtained recently pertaining to some unusual functions of non-digestible milk complex carbohydrates called HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides). Of particular interest.

“Now Goran and his collaborators have found that variations in complex carbohydrates found in breast milk called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are associated with variations in infant growth and obesity. ” Sais director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Carbohydrate compounds have been identified in breast milk which may possibly allow predictions to be made regarding transmission of body fatness from mother to infant. This information is associated with variations of infant growth and obesity. These carbohydrate compounds vary from mother to mother in terms of ratios and concentrations. Rather than digest and absorb, the carbohydrate compounds remain in the colon where they function as prebiotics in which they contribute to directing development of the infant’s immune system and gut micro biome, and this can lead to a lifelong impact on overall health.

“The composition of individual breast milk is more important in predicting obesity than even the mother’s obesity and her weight gain during pregnancy, the study found.”

A cause and effect relationship has not yet been determined between these factors nor do scientists understand what leads to variation in breast milk composition, mainly due to the infancy of this research. What is most interesting, is that researchers believe if the HMOs crucial for obesity protection can be identified, supplements can be developed which can be added to breast milk and formula to help protect against lifelong obesity.