[Literature library] Human milk oligosaccharide concentration throughout lactation

3 min read /
Paediatrics Public health
[Literature library] Human milk oligosaccharide concentration throughout lactation

Over 200 human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) structures have been identified and this recent review article provides an overview of HMO levels from healthy women throughout lactation.

57 peer-reviewed articles were analyzed and a summary as below:

  • Total HMO levels were:
    • Colostrum (0-5 days): 17.7 g/L
    • Transitional milk (6-14 days): 13.3 g/L
    • Mature milk (15-90 days): 11.3 g/L
  • HMO levels differed greatly for individual HMO and varied throughout different lactational stage, e.g.
    • 2’-FL significantly dropped from colostrum to late milk
    • 3-FL significantly increased from colostrum to late milk
  • Pooled human milk consisted of a diverse HMO profile with over 200 structures, but the top 10 HMOs contributed over 70% of total HMO
  • Top HMOs in descending order of magnitude:
    1. 2’-FL
    2. LNDFH-I (DFLNT)
    3. LNFP-I
    4. LNFP-II
    5. LNT
    6. 3-FL
    7. 6’-SL
    8. DSLNT
    9. LNnT
    10. DFL (LDFT)
    11. FDS-LNH
    12. LNFP-III
    13. 3’-SL
    14. LST c
    15. TF-LNH

2’-FL = 2′-Fucosyllactose; LNDFH-I (DFLNT) = Lacto-N-difucohexaose I (or Difucosyllacto-N-Tetraose); LNFP-I = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose I; LNFP-I = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose II;  LNT = Lacto-N-Tetraose; 3-FL = 3-Fucosyllactose; 6’-SL = 6’-Sialyllactose; DSLNT = Disialyllacto-N-Tetraose; LNnT = Lacto-N-Neotetraose; DFL (LDFT) = Difucosyllactose (Lactodifucotetraose); FDS-LNH = Fucosyl-Disialyl-Lacto-N-Hexaose; LNFP-III = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose III; 3’-SL = 3’-Sialyllactose; LST c = Sialyllacto-N-Neotetraose c; TF-LNH = Trifucosyllacto-N-Hexaose


Link to the full article:



Soyyılmaz B et al. The mean of milk: A review of human milk oligosaccharide concentrations throughout lactation. Nutrients. 2021;13(8):2737.

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[Expert video] Understanding Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) Diversity in Human Milk – Ms. Jodi Bettler