“Mother’s milk, which consists of a complex and continually changing blend of proteins, fats and sugars, helps protect babies against bacterial infections.
In the past, scientists have concentrated their search for the source of its antibacterial properties on the proteins it contains. However, an interdisciplinary team of chemists and doctors at Vanderbilt University have discovered that some of the carbohydrates in human milk not only possess antibacterial properties of their own but also enhance the effectiveness of the antibacterial proteins also present.
This is the first example of generalized, antimicrobial activity on the part of the carbohydrates in human milk, said Assistant Professor of Chemistry Steven Townsend, who directed the study. One of the remarkable properties of these compounds is that they are clearly non-toxic, unlike most antibiotics.”