We are pleased to announce that a successful collaboration between glyXera and ETH Zurich, Switzerland resulted in the publication of a research article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition titled “The effects of 2’-fucosyllactose and lacto-N-neotetraose, galacto-oligosaccharides and maternal human milk oligosaccharide profile on iron absorption in Kenyan infants”.

Human milk is the best possible nutrition for all infants. However, the benefits of breastfeeding stretch much further than simply the supply of nourishment to the infant. Of particular importance here are the hundreds of unique and different oligosaccharides, the so-called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOS). The composition of human milk varies greatly within and between mothers over the course of lactation to satisfy the needs of the growing infant.

The study consisted of a multicenter investigation conducted in Msambweni and surrounding rural communities, as well as Kwale County of southern coastal Kenya. The goal of the study was to examine whether and how iron intake can be improved in weaned infants between 8 and 12 months after birth. In addition to weaning, a thin maize porridge called “uji”, typical of the region in Africa, was fed to the children. This porridge not only contained additional iron, but either two HMOS or a mixture of prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides to investigate the role of these additives in enhancing iron absorption.

The human milk (HM) samples were quantitatively analyzed using glyXera’s high-performance multiplexed capillary gel electrophoresis analysis system glyXboxCE utilizing an internal quantification standard. The samples were classified into one of the four known HM groups based on the presence or absence of specific α1-2- and/or α1-4-fucosylated HMOS corresponding to the maternal secretor and Lewis (Se/Le) status. The classification was performed to investigate the relationship between the administered prebiotic oligosaccharides and early childhood nutrition and to clarify whether the maternal genetic predisposition is a decisive factor for the subsequent effect of iron uptake.

The HM typing results showed that the portion of HM Group III (making up 20.4% of the samples) was significantly higher in prevalence compared with outcomes of similar cohorts in Europe. However, these results are consistent with comparable findings in other more rural regions in Africa.

The study confirmed that HMOS compositions are highly variable and uniquely donor-specific. Furthermore, the results showed that consumption of a single low dose of the prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides increased iron absorption in infants, and that this effect was independent of the maternal HMOS profile.

The article is published open access and can be read in full on the publication web page: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002916522105083

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