Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have been researched by scientists for over 100 years, driven by the substantial evidence for the nutritional and health benefits of mother’s milk. Yet research has truly bloomed during the last decade, thanks to progress in biotechnology, which has allowed the production of large amounts of bona fide HMOs. The availability of HMOs has been particularly crucial for the renewed interest in HMO research because of the low abundance or even absence of HMOs in farmed animal milk. This interest is reflected in the increasing number of original research publications and reviews on HMOs. Here, we provide an overview and critical discussion on structure—function relations of HMOs that highlight why they are such interesting and important components of human milk. Clinical observations in breastfed infants backed by basic research from animal models provide guidance as to what physiological roles for HMOs are to be expected. From an evidence-based nutrition viewpoint, we discuss the current data supporting the clinical relevance of specific HMOs based on randomised placebo-controlled clinical intervention trials in formula-fed infants.
Establishing dietary recommendations for micronutrients in young children is difficult. Techniques used to evaluate nutrient intake and bioavailability are hard to apply in this age group. Additionally, large variations in growth rates, dietary patterns, and nutrient losses in early childhood make determinations of dietary requirements difficult. Most recent studies have utilized stable isotopes to determine mineral absorption for iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium.
In the present Nutrition and Growth Yearbook, an international group of experts in nutrition, metabolism, gastroenterology, endocrinology, and auxology joined together to select for our readers some of the important manuscripts published between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019, dealing with issues related to children’s growth, especially those manuscripts that deal with the interaction between nutrition and growth.