Human milk oligosaccharides detected in utero: new opportunities for these prebiotics to impact health in early life

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor pregnant in utero


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are present in maternal urine and blood during pregnancy. Recently, researchers reported that HMOs are also present in utero in amniotic fluid. The scientists identified several HMOs including 2′-fucosyllactose, 3-fucosyllactose, difucosyllactose, and 6′-sialyllactose to be present. To date, one of the detected HMOs in the amniotic fluid is 2′-fucosyllactose, one of the two HMOs that are currently commercially available.


The fact that HMOs appear in the amniotic fluid opens an entirely new field of research. It creates new opportunities for HMOs to impact infant and maternal health. Since the amniotic fluid has its own microbiome, HMOs can potentially act as prebiotics and contribute to shaping the amniotic fluid microbiome. This sets the stage for the developing infant microbiome post-partum and may affect life-long health and disease risk. HMOs in maternal urine and amniotic fluid may also serve as antimicrobials and antiadhesives and help fight infections and inflammation, reducing the risk of chorioamnionitis and preterm delivery. Lastly, HMOs effects can go beyond the gut and its immune system as they have been detected in blood. Therefore they are able to travel to other parts of the body and affect for instance prenatal lung or brain development.

So far it is unclear how early during pregnancy HMOs appear in the amniotic fluid. However, it would be very interesting to find out if HMOs in amniotic fluid could function as a marker for preterm delivery risk. In any event, these new findings create new opportunities for these naturally-occurring prebiotics in early life.

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Human milk oligosaccharides are detected in utero: new opportunities for these naturally-occurring prebiotics to impact infant and maternal health


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