Study Finds Human Milk Components in Amniotic Fluid

Results open new field of inquiry, expanding potential roles of components from postnatal to prenatal

October 02, 2018  |  

​Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are complex carbohydrates that are highly abundant and unique to human milk. Accumulating evidence indicates that exposure to HMOs in the postnatal period has both immediate and long-term benefits to infant health and development. Previous studies have shown that HMOs are present in maternal urine and blood during pregnancy, as early as the first trimester, but researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine report for the first time that HMOs are also present in amniotic fluid.

The study is published in the October 2 issue of Frontiers in Pediatrics-Neonatology.

Lars Bode

Lars Bode, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (LRF MOMI CORE).

“So far, research around human milk oligosaccharides has focused on the breast-fed infant, but our latest discovery suggests that the benefits of HMOs may begin much earlier and affect the growing fetus,” said Lars Bode, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (LRF MOMI CORE).

HMOs are natural prebiotics that contribute to the shaping of the infant gut microbiome, which may affect disease risk, such as infectious diarrhea or necrotizing enterocolitis, a condition that impacts the intestine of premature infants, and potentially also non-communicable diseases like asthma, allergies and obesity later in life. “Our findings that HMOs appear in amniotic fluid opens up an entirely new field of research and expands the HMO focus throughout development and after birth,” said Bode.

The study enrolled 48 pregnant women and collected their urine and amniotic fluid at delivery, as well as their milk four days postpartum. 

Similar to the effects reported for the postnatal phase, HMOs in amniotic fluid may influence the early microbiome and also prevent infections and regulate immune responses that would otherwise raise the risk for preterm birth.

“HMOs could also potentially be involved in prenatal lung or brain development,” said Bode. “We don’t know yet how early during pregnancy HMOs appear in the amniotic fluid, but imagine if we could screen HMOs in amniotic fluid as a marker for preterm delivery risk.”

The new findings, he said, warrant additional research in how HMOs impact maternal and infant health at the perinatal and neonatal stage, including investigation of their potential life-long consequences.

Co-authors include: Audra Wise and Bianca Robertson, UC San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital–San Diego; Biswa Choudhury, UC San Diego; Samuli Rautava and Erika Isolauri, University of Turku and Turko University Hospital; Seppo Salminen, University of Turku.

Funding for this research came from the UC San Diego Academic Senate (RO192H-BODE).




Media Contact

Michelle Brubaker
858-249-0456
mmbrubaker@ucsd.edu

Share This Article


Related News

8/26/2018
To better understand how much marijuana or constituent compounds actually get into breast milk and how long it remains, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted a ...
6/12/2018
The unique composition of a mother’s breastmilk may help to reduce food sensitization in her infant, report researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine with colleagues in ...
3/21/2017
In a new study, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, University of Cyprus and Stanford University map the complex biological cascade caused by MIA: the expression ...
11/9/2016
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Texas A&M College of Medicine and the Omni-Net Birth Defects Prevention Program in Ukraine have identified a blood test that may h ...



Follow Us