Immune active milk components

Variability of composition in Chinese human milk.

Infants who are exclusively breastfed for 6 months have less gastrointestinal and other infectious diseases. Because of these health benefits to newborn babies, the World Health Organization advices to exclusively breastfeed babies for the first 6 months of life. Although breastfeeding is superior to infant formula, we have to face up to the fact that most babies do not receive human milk solely during their first phase of life. From that perspective, it would be beneficial to have infant formula that has been adapted to best suit the needs of the baby. Over the years, many changes in infant formula composition have been implemented to make infant formula more similar to human milk in terms of composition and functionality. For example, specific omega-3 fatty acid composition and galacto-oligosaccharides are currently added to infant formula. However, human milk still has advantages for the baby, part of which may be related to the presence and concentration of specific immunologically-active milk components (e.g. proteins or oligosaccharides).

This project aims at providing new insights in the variability of such immune-active milk components in breast milk from Chinese mothers in comparison to breast milk of Dutch mothers, and to establish the biological importance of these differences. 

Analysing the composition of immune-active components, followed by studying their fate during digestion and intestinal fermentation, using different (e.g. LC, CE, MS) analytical approaches. 

BSc and MSc students are always welcome to contact me to be involved in the project. There is a lot of interesting work, in and out the lab.