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Concentration of 12 Oligosaccharides in the Milk of New Zealand Breastfeeding Women †

School of Food and Advanced Technology, College of Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022, Wellington, New Zealand, 1–2 December 2022.
Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18(1), 26;
Published: 23 March 2023
(This article belongs to the Proceedings of Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand 2022)


Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are the third most abundant component in breast milk. HMOs benefit infant gut health, modulate immune responses, and promote brain development. The profile and concentration of HMOs vary considerably among breastfeeding women, and are reported to be associated with genetic, maternal, and environmental factors as well as feeding practices. One reason for the diversity in HMO concentration is the secretor gene, which determines the presence of an enzyme responsible for the synthesis of 2′-FL and LNFP-I. To date, there is no report about HMO concentration or profile in the New Zealand population. Our objective was to investigate 12 HMO concentrations in a small sample of New Zealand women. Sixty-eight breastfeeding mothers (mean age 32 years, 77% Caucasian) of singleton infants (median age [Q1, Q3] 108 [70, 166] days) were included, with 65% exclusively breastfeeding and 54% who had two or more children. Concentrations of 12 HMOs were measured by UHPLC with fluorescence detection. Overall, 68% of mothers were secretors, which was defined by the presence of 2′-FL in the milk. HMO profiles varied widely; total HMO concentration varied 4.2-fold between women; and individual HMOs varied from 4.8-fold to >100-fold. The median of total HMO concentration (Q1, Q3) of the secretors and non-secretors were 6774.9 (6395.4, 8245.6) mg/L and 7128.0 (6093.1, 7880.1) mg/L respectively. Significant differences in concentration of 2′-FL, 3-FL, A-Tet, LNFP-I, LNFP-II, LNFPV, and LNnT between secretors and non-secretors were found by Mann–Whitney tests. However, there was no significant difference in concentrations of LNFP-III, LNnFP, 3′-SL, 6′-SL, LNT, or total HMOs between the secretors and the non-secretors. HMO concentrations vary broadly between breastfeeding women. A longitudinal cohort of a larger sample size is required to fully investigate HMO profiles at different lactation stages of New Zealand women and to further explore the influence of maternal and environmental factors on HMO concentration.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, L.L.J., L.B. and J.L.W.; formal analysis, L.L.J., L.B. and J.L.W.; investigation, L.L.J.; writing—original draft preparation, L.L.J.; writing—review and editing, L.L.J., L.B. and J.L.W. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by The School of Food and Advanced Technology, Massey University and Massey University Research Fund.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, and approved by Massey University Human Ethics Committee (SOA 18/80).

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data are not publicly available due to privacy and ethical restrictions.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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MDPI and ACS Style

Jia, L.L.; Brough, L.; Weber, J.L. Concentration of 12 Oligosaccharides in the Milk of New Zealand Breastfeeding Women. Med. Sci. Forum 2023, 18, 26.

AMA Style

Jia LL, Brough L, Weber JL. Concentration of 12 Oligosaccharides in the Milk of New Zealand Breastfeeding Women. Medical Sciences Forum. 2023; 18(1):26.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Jia, Lili L., Louise Brough, and Janet L. Weber. 2023. "Concentration of 12 Oligosaccharides in the Milk of New Zealand Breastfeeding Women" Medical Sciences Forum 18, no. 1: 26.

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