Introducing Prebiotic HMOs – an immune boosting nutrient from breast milk

We all know that fibre is good for our gut. Prebiotic is one such fibre that is effectively used by the gut bacteria for good health. With this background in place, what if we told you that breast milk acts as a natural prebiotic? The prebiotic nutrient in breast milk is called human milk oligosaccharides (oh-lee-go-sack-a-rides) or HMOs. Prebiotic HMOs, naturally present in breastmilk, are absent in cow’s milk 1

HMOs are milk carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the abundant nutrients present in breast milk along with fat and protein. Out of these, breast milk carbohydrates can be roughly classified into two categories – lactose (milk sugar) and Prebiotic HMOs. Prebiotic HMOs are the third most abundant component in breast milk. 1 These Prebiotic HMOs confer several health benefits to your baby1.

Good immunity and gut health

A baby’s immune system fully matures only by 8 years of age until then it is immature. But the maximum immune support is required in the early years of a baby’s life. 1 Mother’s milk is truly protective as it provides proteins, vital antibodies, immune cells, and Prebiotic HMOs. These prebiotic HMOs are a master in tricking the bad bacteria. They are not digested in the stomach and reach the baby’s gut intact where they are selectively fermented by the good gut bacteria known to fight off the infection-causing bacteria2Thus, Prebiotic HMOs help keep your baby’s gut healthy and infection free. 3,4

Good for growth and brain health

Breastfeeding is the time when the good bacteria’s multiply and set up base in the baby’s gut . Thus, Prebiotic HMOs given during this time would mean higher numbers of good or beneficial-for-health gut bacteria3.

The gut’s role doesn’t end with warding off infection – it also helps with brain development !

Bacteria present in the gut releases many metabolites after fermenting the Prebiotic HMOs. These metabolites helps in brain growth and development. Numerous animal and human studies have shown this connection. 4

breast milk remains the richest source of Prebiotic HMOs like 2-FL which provides multiple health benefits to your baby1-4. Reach out to your paediatrician to know more about Prebiotic HMOs.


  1. Hegar B, Wibowo Y, Basrowi RW, et al. The Role of Two Human Milk Oligosaccharides, 2'-Fucosyllactose and Lacto-N-Neotetraose, in Infant Nutrition. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2019;22(4):330-340.
  2. Milani C, Duranti S, Bottacini F, et al. The First Microbial Colonizers of the Human Gut: Composition, Activities, and Health Implications of the Infant Gut Microbiota. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2017 Nov 8;81(4):e00036-17.
  3. Ayechu-Muruzabal V, van Stigt AH, Mank M, et al. Diversity of Human Milk Oligosaccharides and Effects on Early Life Immune Development. Front Pediatr. 2018;6:239.
  4. 4. Berger, P.K.; Bansal, R.; Sawardekar, S.; Yonemitsu, C.; Furst, A.; Hampson, H.E.; Schmidt, K.A.; Alderete, T.L.; Bode, L.; Goran, M.I.; et al. Associations of Human Milk Oligosaccharides with Infant Brain Tissue Organization and Regional Blood Flow at 1 Month of Age. Nutrients 2022, 14, 3820.