I’ve never heard of this component of human milk before: sphingolipids. It’s a class of lipid metabolite. According to this article, these metabolites help shape the infant microbiome.

Now new research (in mice) from Cornell University shows that certain gut microbes take in a common nutrient in human milk called sphinganine, whilst other microbes do not. Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium use sphingolipids for their own metabolism.

This research can help explain why the infant gut microbiome of a breastfed baby is different from that of a formula-fed baby.

"Our lab is very interested in how the diet interacts with the microbiome in order to really understand how you can best modulate it to have positive effects on health," senior author Elizabeth Johnson, Assistant Professor of Molecular Nutrition at Cornell University.

"In this study, we were able to see that yes, these dietary lipids that are a big part of [breastfed] infants diets, are interacting quite robustly with the gut microbiome."

Link to Medical Express Article: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-09-tracks-huma...

Scientific Reference: Dietary sphinganine is selectively assimilated by members of the gut microbiomeMin-Ting Lee, Henry H. Le, Elizabeth L. JohnsonbioRxiv 2020.06.08.140665; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.08.140665