Human milk contains an abundant supply and diverse array of oligosaccharides that are known to impart significant health benefits to the nursing infant including establishment and maintenance of a healthy gut microflora, immune development and protection against gastrointestinal infections. When breastfeeding is not possible or insufficient, infant formulas are commonly used as an alternative. However, limited information is available about the presence of naturally occurring oligosaccharides in these infant formulas and their likely health benefits. The present study examined the presence of naturally occurring oligosaccharides in commercial goats’ milk-based stage 1 and stage 2 infant formulas and their prebiotic and anti-infection properties. LC/MS was used to detect and quantify oligosaccharides and their prebiotic potential was assessed by their ability, at concentrations present in reconstituted ready-to-use infant formula, to promote the growth of
Bifidobacterium animalissubsp. lactisBB12, B. longumBB536, Lactobacillus acidophilus4461 and L. casei2607 in vitro. For anti-infection properties, the ability of goat milk oligosaccharides to prevent the adhesion of Escherichia coliNCTC 10418 and a Salmonella typhimuriumisolate to Caco-2 cells was investigated. The results showed the presence of fourteen quantifiable oligosaccharides in stage 1 and stage 2 goats’ milk-based infant formula. This was similar to the number of oligosaccharides detected in the fresh goats’ milk. Of these, five were structurally similar to those found in human milk. These oligosaccharides were shown to significantly enhance the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli and reduce the adhesion of E. coliNCTC 10418 and S. typhimuriumto Caco-2 cells. Together, these results suggest that oligosaccharides naturally present in goats’ milk-based infant formula exhibit strong prebiotic and anti-pathogen adhesion properties and may confer gut health benefits to infants.