Analysis of Disialyllacto-N-Tetraose (DSLNT) Content in Milk From Mothers of Preterm Infants

Denise Hassinger, Dana M. Clausen, Sarah Nitka, Aimee Herdt, Ian Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) have been recognized for the protective effects they may elicit among high risk infants. One HMO, disialyllacto-N-tetraose (DSLNT), has been shown to reduce the risk for developing necrotizing enterocolitis in preterm infants. Research aims: To measure DSLNT content in the human milk from mothers of preterm infants, and (1) assess variability; (2) establish correlations between maternal factors and/or an infant’s risk for developing necrotizing enterocolitis; and (3) determine the effect of pasteurization. Methods: DSLNT was measured in 84 samples of preterm milk, in human donor milk, and in Holder and flash pasteurized samples. Preterm infant outcomes were assessed by medical record review. Results: DSLNT content of mother’s own milk was highly variable and decreased significantly with increasing postnatal age. Four preterm infants (6.7%) developed necrotizing enterocolitis (Bell stage II or greater), 4 (6.7%) developed spontaneous intestinal perforation, and 1 developed both. DSLNT z-score was below the age-specific M within 8 (89%) of the 9 milk samples from mothers whose babies developed necrotizing enterocolitis (p = 0.039), but the DSLNT content did not differ between infants with necrotizing enterocolitis, spontaneous intestinal perforation, or neither condition (p > 0.1). DSLNT levels were significantly reduced in samples of donor milk compared to mothers’ own milk (p = 0.0051). Pasteurization did not significantly reduce DSLNT content. Conclusions: DSLNT content of human milk is variable and may be lower in milk from mothers whose infants developed necrotizing enterocolitis. DSLNT content is unaffected by flash or Holder pasteurization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-298
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • breastfeeding
  • human milk
  • neonatology
  • prematurity
  • very low birth weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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