Breastfeeding is known to offer significant protection against infectious diarrhea. Oligosaccharides, the third largest solid component of human milk, constitute a major mechanism of innate defense of breastfed infants against infectious diarrhea (Morrow et al. 2004; Jiang et al. 2004; Newburg et al. 2004; Ruiz-Palacios et al. 2003). The fucosylated oligosaccharides of human milk comprise the majority of milk oligosaccharides and have been shown to inhibit host cell binding to specific enteric pathogens (Crane et al. 1994; Newburg et al. 1990; Ruiz-Palacios et al. 2003). Mothers vary in the quantity and type of oligosaccharides found in their milk, which may influence the degree to which their milk offers protection of their infants against specific pathogens. Human milk fucosylated oligosaccharide synthesis is controlled by the same fucosyltransferase genes (FUT2 and FUT3) that control secretor and Lewis blood group types (Newburg et al. 2004; Viverge et al. 1990). Oligosaccharide expression in human milk also may be affected by gestational age and stage of lactation. Read More
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