What are the ‘bioactive’ components of human milk?

Toni Harman
6 min readJul 21, 2023

Quick Summary: Human milk contains thousands of ‘bioactive’ components which influence a child’s health in the short and long-term. Many of these biologically active components are unique to human milk and many influence the baby’s developing immune system.

What are the bioactive components of human milk? Find out more about the science of human milk, birth, neuroscience and the microbiome. 20 PRESENTATIONS + ONE YEAR ACCESS + 12 HOURS CPD/CE + TRANSCRIPTS — instant access to The Microbirth Summit: >>> https://bit.ly/MicrobirthSummit

Breast milk is incredibly complex, packed with thousands of distinct ‘bioactive’ components which can influence a child’s short and long-term health.

Many of these biologically active compounds are unique to human milk. You don’t find them anywhere else. They’re not in infant formula.

What are these ‘bioactives’ and how exactly do they influence infant health?

This is the subject of a powerful presentation at our upcoming virtual Microbirth Summit (from 28–31st August) by lactation scientist Dr Jennifer Smilowitz, the Associate Director of the Human Studies Research Program for the Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis.

As Dr Smilowitz says,

“More than 1,000 unique biologically active complex compounds in human milk synergistically support infant health, by nourishing, communicating and protecting infants.”

Want to know more about the ‘bioactive’ components of human milk?



Toni Harman

I help parents and health professionals better understand the science of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and the microbiome. https://linktr.ee/toniharman