Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the third most abundant component of human breast milk, and scientific research is slowly recognising their importance in infant health and development. Tune in to this fascinating chat with Professor Lars Bode to learn about the potential health benefits of HMOs and how and why their composition varies between women across the globe. Professor Bode also dives into the possible applications of synthetic versions of HMOs for pre-term infants and touches on future research priorities in non-maternal populations, including those with rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.  



Dr. Lars Bode is Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology and the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, the Larsson-Rosenquist Chair of Collaborative Human Milk Research, and Director of the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (MOMI CORE) at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Bode has been working on human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) for over 20 years. He received both his Master of Science and PhD degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University Giessen, Germany, and completed a pre-doctoral fellowship at the Institute of Child Health, University College London, United Kingdom. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, California, Dr. Bode joined the University of California, San Diego, where he is leading a research program dedicated to investigating HMO biosynthesis and functions with potential benefits for infant health and development.


In this episode, we discuss:

  • The definition and function of HMOs
  • How the HMO composition of breast milk changes over time and between women
  • The prebiotic properties of HMOs
  • Why HMOs are different from other prebiotics like FOS and GOS
  • Future areas of research on HMOs


Additional resources

Nestlé Nutrition Institute HMO Academy

Two-part webinar series: Human Milk Oligosaccharides – An introduction

Two-part webinar series: Human Milk Oligosaccharides – Future directions


This podcast is not, and is not intended to be, medical advice, which should be tailored to your individual circumstances. This podcast is for your information only, and we advise that you exercise your own judgment before deciding to use the information provided. Professional medical advice should be obtained before taking action.  Please see here for terms and conditions.


This podcast includes discussion of infant formula ingredients. Breastfeeding is best, and provides the ideal nutrition for babies. Good maternal nutrition is important for preparation and maintenance of breastfeeding. Professional guidance can be sought on diet and the preparation for and maintenance of breastfeeding. A decision not to breastfeed, or to introduce partial bottle feeding, could reduce the supply of breast milk. Once reduced, it is difficult to re-establish. Infant formula should be prepared and used as directed. Unnecessary or improper use may present a health hazard. Social and financial implications, including the cost of providing formula until 12 months of age, should be considered when choosing how to feed infants.


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