Human Milk Oligosaccharides

Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are non-digestible carbohydrates and are the third most abundant component in human milk after lactose and fat. They are complex carbohydrates built from the following monomers: D-glucose, D-galactose, N-acetylglucosamine, L-fucose and sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid)1. Research shows that HMOs play a key role in supporting infant health, among others by shaping the gut microbiome, reducing the risk of infections and supporting brain development of newborns2,3. So far, more than 200 different HMOs have been identified in human milk4, of which 2’-FL is the most prevalent5,6.


  • Shaping the gut microbiome
  • Reducing the risk of infections
  • Supporting brain development

2’-Fucosyllactose (2’-FL) is the most abundant oligosaccharide (HMO) found in human milk7. The concentration of 2’-FL found in human milk varies between individuals, typically ranging between 2 and 4 g/l7. Until recently, cow’s milk based infant formula did not contain human milk oligosaccharides.


Primarily, preclinical research has shown 2’-FL to reduce of the risk of infections8,9 and to stimulate the growth of Bifidobacteria10 in the gut., In addition, emerging preclinical and human association studies suggest that 2’-FL may enhance gut barrier function11,12; affect brain development, cognition and learning13–15 and may reduce the risk of allergy development16,17. Research shows that HMOs plays a key role in supporting infant health, among others by shaping the gut microbiome, reducing the risk of infections and supporting brain development of newborns.

Recent clinical studies have shown that addition of 2’-FL to infant formula is safe and well tolerated by healthy infants18–20 as well as infants with cow’s milk allergy21,22.

First efficacy outcomes from safety studies in infants suggest that 2’-FL can contribute to reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections19 and can have immunomodulatory activity23.

Product Range

Dry Matter (dm) 2'-Fucosyllactose on dm Other Carbohydrates on dm Protein Sulphated Ash Moisture
Aequival®2′-FL 96% 94% 6% <0.01% <0.2% 4%

The innovation of infant nutrition

The story behind the development of Aequival® 2′-FL. Watch the mini documentary to discover this innovation journey.




1. Kunz, C., Rudloff, S., Baier, W., Klein, N. & Strobel, S. Oligosaccharides in human milk: structural, functional, and metabolic aspects. Annu. Rev. Nutr. 20, 699–722 (2000).

2. Bode, L. & Jantscher-krenn, E. Structure-Function Relationships of Human Milk Oligosaccharides. Adv. Nutr. 3, 383S–391S (2012).

3. Bode, L. et al. Human milk oligosaccharide concentration and risk of postnatal transmission of HIV through breastfeeding. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 96, 831–9 (2012).

4. German, J. B., Freeman, S. L., Lebrilla, C. B. & Mills, D. a. Human Milk Oligosaccharides: Evolution, Structures and Bioselectivity as Substrates for Intestinal Bacteria. Nestle Nutr Work. Ser Pediatr Progr. 62, 205–222 (2008).

5. Austin, S. et al. Temporal Change of the Content of 10 Oligosaccharides in the Milk of Chinese Urban Mothers. Nutrients 8, 346 (2016).

6. Soyyilmaz, B. et al. The mean of milk: A review of human milk oligosaccharide concentrations throughout lactation. Nutrients 13, 1–22 (2021).

7. Chaturvedi, P. et al. Fucosylated human milk oligosaccharides vary between individuals and over the course of lactation. Glycobiology 11, 365–72 (2001).

8. Morrow, A. L. et al. Human milk oligosaccharides are associated with protection against diarrhea in breast-fed infants. J. Pediatr. 145, 297–303 (2004).

9. Weichert, S. et al. Bioengineered 2’-fucosyllactose and 3-fucosyllactose inhibit the adhesion of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and enteric pathogens to human intestinal and respiratory cell lines. Nutr. Res. 33, 831–8 (2013).

10. Yu, Z. T., Chen, C. & Newburg, D. S. Utilization of major fucosylated and sialylated human milk oligosaccharides by isolated human gut microbes. Glycobiology 23, 1281–1292 (2013).

11. Natividad, J., Rytz, A., Keddani, S., Bergonzelli, G. & Garcia-Rodenas, C. Blends of Human Milk Oligosaccharides Confer Intestinal Epithelial Barrier Protection In Vitro. Nutrients 12, 3047 (2020).

12. Šuligoj, T. et al. Effects of Human Milk Oligosaccharides on the Adult Gut Microbiota and Barrier Function. Nutrients 12, 1–21 (2020).

13. Vazquez, E. et al. Dietary 2’-Fucosyllactose Enhances Operant Conditioning and Long-Term Potentiation via Gut-Brain Communication through the Vagus Nerve in Rodents. PLoS One 11, e0166070 (2016).

14. Oliveros, E. et al. Oral Supplementation of 2’-fucosyllactose during lactation improves memory and

learning in rats. J. Nutr. Biochem. 31, 20–27 (2016).

15. Vázquez, E. et al. Effects of a human milk oligosaccharide, 2’-fucosyllactose, on hippocampal long-term potentiation and learning capabilities in rodents. J. Nutr. Biochem. 26, 455–65 (2015).

16. Castillo-Courtade, L. et al. Attenuation of food allergy symptoms following treatment with human milk oligosaccharides in a mouse model. Allergy 70, 1091–1102 (2015).

17. Sprenger, N. et al. FUT2-dependent breast milk oligosaccharides and allergy at 2 and 5 years of age in infants with high hereditary allergy risk. Eur. J. Nutr. 56, 1293–1301 (2016).

18. Marriage, B. J., Buck, R. H., Goehring, K. C., Oliver, J. S. & Williams, J. A. Infants Fed a Lower Calorie Formula With 2’FL Show Growth and 2’FL Uptake Like Breast-Fed Infants. J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 61, 649–58 (2015).

19. Puccio, G. et al. Effects of Infant Formula with Human Milk Oligosaccharides on Growth and Morbidity: A Randomized Multicenter Trial. JPGN 64, 624–631 (2017).

20. Vandenplas, Y. et al. A partly fermented infant formula with postbiotics including 3′-GL, specific oligosaccharides, 2′-FL, and milk fat supports adequate growth, is safe and well-tolerated in healthy term infants: A double-blind, randomised, controlled, multi-country trial. Nutrients 12, 1–17 (2020).

21. Nowak-Wegrzyn, A., Czerkies, L., Reyes, K., Collins, B. & Heine, R. G. Confirmed Hypoallergenicity of a Novel Whey-Based Extensively Hydrolyzed Infant Formula Containing Two Human Milk Oligosaccharides. Nutrients 11, 1–10 (2019).

22. Ramirez-Farias, C., Baggs, G. E. & Marriage, B. J. Growth, Tolerance, and Compliance of Infants Fed an Extensively Hydrolyzed Infant Formula with Added 2’-FL Fucosyllactose (2’-FL) Human Milk Oligosaccharide. Nutrients 13, E186 (2021).

23. Goehring, K. C. et al. Similar to Those Who Are Breastfed , Infants Fed a Formula Containing 2’-Fucosyllactose Have Lower Inflammatory Cytokines in a Randomized. J Nutr 146, 2559–2566 (2016)

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