In 1888, Eschbach identified different forms of lactose in human vs bovine milk and noted that human milk lactose types are more heterogeneous (cited in chapter by Montreuil, J. p3-11 in Renner and Sawatzki 1993, according to Kunz 2012). Deniges and colleagues found that lactose is the same but that human milk contains a therefore unknown carbohydrate fraction (cited in chapter by Montreuil).

Four decades later, around 1930, a method was developed to begin identifying this fraction, which was termed "gynolactose" by Polonowski and Lespagnol (Kunz 2012; Polonowski and Lespagnol 1931, 1929). With more knowledge the term gynolactose changed into human milk oligosaccharide fraction. It took another 24 years for Polonowski and Montreuil from that first method to discover 2'-fucosyllactose and 3'-fucosyllactose as the first isolated molecules in this carbohydrate fraction of human milk (Polonowski and Montreuil 1954).