Macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats deliver energy, cellular growth substrates and building blocks for functional components. Human milk contains enough vitamins, minerals and trace elements for the infant. Bioactive compounds in human milk are diverse. Amongst others, functional proteins like enzymes and lactoferrin or human milk oligosaccharides contribute to functional development and provide immune protection.
Breast milk contains thausands of molecules and bioactive compounds. Not all of these are nutritive. Many contribute to intestinal maturation, help with the digestion of nutrients, stimulate the immune system or are immunoactive themselves. Milk composition is not static; it changes through the course of lactation in a way that naturally matches the individual's needs to optimally support the child’s development. Milk lipid quality and prebiotics are hot topics and particularly human milk oligossacharides (HMO) are in the centre of attention, because of their positive effects on child health.More about Human Milk Oligosaccharides
The review "Human milk lipids" (Koletzko 2016) describes functions beyond infants’ needs for energy and micro-essentials, milk fat globule membrane structures, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and other lipophilic bioactive compounds. That may be correlated with cognitive development and immune functions. The author affirms his view that ARA is important for infant development and cautions against products compliant with the European legislation revision (in force since February 2020) until further data on safety of such products is available.Download paper synopsis