Human Milk Microbiome and Microbiome-Related Products: Potential Modulators of Infant Growth

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Infant growth trajectory may influence later-life obesity. Human milk provides a wide range of nutritional and bioactive components that are vital for infant growth. Compared to formula-fed infants, breastfed infants are less likely to develop later-onset obesity, highlighting the potential role of bioactive components present in human milk. Components of particular interest are the human milk microbiota, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), and antimicrobial proteins, each of which influence the infant gut microbiome, which in turn has been associated with infant body composition. SCFAs and antimicrobial proteins from human milk may also systemically influence infant metabolism. Although inconsistent, multiple studies have reported associations between HMOs and infant growth, while studies on other bioactive components in relation to infant growth are sparse. Moreover, these microbiome-related components may interact with each other within the mammary gland. Here, we review the evidence around the impact of human milk microbes, HMOs, SCFAs, and antimicrobial proteins on infant growth. Breastfeeding is a unique window of opportunity to promote optimal infant growth, with aberrant growth trajectories potentially creating short- and long-term public health burdens. Therefore, it is important to understand how bioactive components of human milk influence infant growth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5148
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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