The latest innovation in the world of early life nutrition

Synbiotics: HMOs and probiotics working together to enhance infant health 

Break new ground in early life nutrition with dsm-firmenich's groundbreaking synbiotic solutions, which combine the power of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOS) and probiotics to help support infant health and development.

How do Synbiotics work? 

HMOs, the third largest component of breast milk, work synergistically with beneficial probiotics to establish a healthy gut microbiome and support immune function in infants. The cutting-edge approach of synbiotics involves selectively promoting the growth of specific probiotic strains through the use of HMOs, creating unique synergies that can lead to improved health outcomes. By harnessing the power of these synergistic combinations, synbiotics bring us closer to providing formula-fed infants with the benefits observed in breast-fed babies, narrowing the gap in health and developmental outcomes. 


Human Milk Oligosaccharides:

A key component of human milk 

Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a collection of over 200 different carbohydrate structures that are the third largest solid component in human milk1, which play a crucial role in establishing a healthy intestinal microbiota and support the developing immune system.  Alongside their anti-microbial and anti-adhesive properties – which lead to anti-pathogenic activity2,3 – HMOs act as prebiotic agents, selectively promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, like bifidobacteria, in the infant gut.4,5 This supports the development of a healthy microbiota, which helps protect against potentially harmful microbes and supports immune system development.6 Moreover, emerging science suggests HMOs may also contribute to further benefits in early life development, including brain development and cognitive function.7,8,9,10


Shaping the infant microbiome 

Probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species, are live microorganisms that confer health benefits on the host when administered in adequate amounts.11 These beneficial bacteria play a crucial role in shaping the infant microbiome and help build the foundations for healthy growth and development.12,13 As beneficial bacteria, probiotics support infant gut health and immune system development.


Health benefit research: 

When combined, HMOs and probiotics create synergistic synbiotics that unlock unique benefits for infant health and development.

Infant microbiome close to that of breast-fed infants14

Development of the infant immune system15

Development of the gut microbiome and gut brain axis16

Microbiome establishment for optimal development trajectories17

Join us at ESPGHAN 2024 in Milan

Join us at ESPGHAN 2024, 15-18 May in Milan, to discover the potential of synbiotics for the next-generation of early life nutrition solutions.

Make sure not to miss our Product Theater session on Thursday 16 May on Synbiotics - Unlocking the Synergies of HMOs and Probiotics for Infant Health and Development. Discover the science behind how combining specific HMOs with specific probiotics can create a synergistic synbiotic effect that surpasses the benefits of each component alone to positively impact the infant microbiome. 

Want to learn more about the future of infant nutrition, supported by synbiotics? Visit our event page to book a meeting with our experts.

HMOs for early life nutrition

As leader in HMO research, development and production, our science-backed HMOs are designed to help you formulate purpose-led products that support infant health. Our industry-leading HMO portfolio, backed by the latest preclinical and clinical data, can help you bring the benefits of HMOs to infants worldwide to narrow the health gap between breast- and formula-fed babies. 

Visit the landing page to learn how we can help bring your next HMO innovation to life. 

Connect with an expert

Get in touch with our expert team to unlock the potential of synbiotics for immune function, gut health, brain development and metabolic well-being in infants.


1 Bode L. Human milk oligosaccharides: every baby needs a sugar mama. Glycobiology. 2012;22(9):1147-1162.

2 Al-Khafaji AH, Jepsen SD, Christensen KR, Vigsnæs LK. The potential of human milk oligosaccharides to impact the microbiota-gut-brain axis through modulation of the gut microbiota. Journal of Functional Foods. 2020;74:104176.

3 Duska-McEwen G, Senft AP, Ruetschilling TL, Barrett EG, Buck R. Human milk oligosaccharides enhance innate immunity to respiratory syncytial virus and influenza in vitro. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2014;5:1387-1398.

4 Francesca Turroni, Christian Milani, Marco Ventura, Douwe van Sinderen. The human gut microbiota during the initial stages of life: insights from bifidobacteria, Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 2022; 73:81-87. ​ 

5 Walsh, C., Lane, J.A., van Sinderen, D. et al. Human milk oligosaccharide-sharing by a consortium of infant derived Bifidobacterium species. Sci Rep. 2022;12:4143.

6 Gensollen T, Iyer SS, Kasper DL, Blumberg RS. How colonization by microbiota in early life shapes the immune system. Science. 2016;352(6285):539-544.

7 Berger PK, Plows JF, Jones RB, et al. Human milk oligosaccharide 2’-fucosyllactose links feedings at 1 month to cognitive development at 24 months in infants of normal and overweight mothers. PLoS One. 2020b;15(2).

8 Tarr AJ, Galley JD, Fisher SE, Chichlowski M, Berg BM, Bailey MT. The prebiotics 3’Sialyllactose and 6’Sialyllactose diminish stressor-induced anxiety-like behavior and colonic microbiota alterations: Evidence for effects on the gut-brain axis. Brain Behav Immun. 2015;50:166-177.

9 Al-Khafaji AH, Jepsen SD, Christensen KR, Vigsnæs LK. The potential of human milk oligosaccharides to impact the microbiota-gut-brain axis through modulation of the gut microbiota. Journal of Functional Foods. 2020;74:104176.

10 Hauser J, Pisa E, Arias Vásquez A, et al. Sialylated human milk oligosaccharides program cognitive development through a non-genomic transmission mode. Mol Psychiatry. 2021;26(7):2854-2871. doi:10.1038/s41380-021-01054-9.

11 Swanson KS, Gibson GR, Hutkins R, et al. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of synbiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020;17(11):687-701. doi:10.1038/s41575-020-0344-2

12 Chen J, Cai W, Feng Y. Development of intestinal bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in breast-fed neonates. Clin Nutr. 2007;26(5):559-566. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2007.03.003

13 Myung Wook Song, Kee-Tae Kim & Hyun-Dong Paik (2023) Probiotics as a Functional Health Supplement in Infant Formulas for the Improvement of Intestinal Microflora and Immunity, Food Reviews International, 39:2, 858-874, DOI: 10.1080/87559129.2021.1928178

14 Alliet P, Vandenplas Y, Roggero P, Jespers SNJ, Peeters S, Stalens JP, Kortman GAM, Amico M, Berger B, Sprenger N, Cercamondi CI, Corsello G. Safety and efficacy of a probiotic-containing infant formula supplemented with 2’-fucosyllacotse: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal. 2022;21:11

15 Salminen S, Stahl B, Vinderola G, Szajewska H. Infant Formula Supplemented with Biotics: Current Knowledge and Future Perspectives. Nutrients. 2020;12(7):1952. Published 2020 Jun 30. doi:10.3390/nu12071952

16 Cho S, Samuel TM, Li T, et al. Interactions between Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides and human milk oligosaccharides and their associations with infant cognition. Front Nutr. 2023;10:1216327. Published 2023 Jun 29. doi:10.3389/fnut.2023.1216327

17 Robertson RC, Manges AR, Finlay BB, Prendergast, AJ. The Human Microbiome and Child Growth - First 1000 Days and Beyond. Trends Microbiol. 2019;27(2):131-147. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2018.09.008

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