The impact of the milk glycobiome on the neonate gut microbiota

Alline R. Pacheco, Daniela Barile, Mark Underwood, David A. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Human milk is a complete source of nourishment for the infant. Exclusive breastfeeding not only sustains the infant's development but also guides the proliferation of a protective intestinal microbiota. Among the many components of milk that modulate the infant gut microbiota, the milk glycans, which comprise free oligosaccharides, glycoproteins, and glycolipids, are increasingly recognized as drivers of microbiota development and overall gut health. These glycans may display pleiotropic functions, conferring protection against infectious diseases and also acting as prebiotics, selecting for the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. The prebiotic effect of milk glycans has direct application to prevention of diseases such as necrotizing enterocolitis, a common and devastating disease of preterm infants. In this article, we review the impact of the human (and bovine) milk glycome on gut health through establishment of a milk-oriented microbiota in the neonate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-445
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Animal Biosciences
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • bifidobacteria
  • glycobiome
  • milk bioactives
  • milk oligosaccharides
  • neonatal microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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