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Growth factor concentrations in human milk are associated with infant weight and BMI from birth to 5 years

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posted on 2023-05-03, 18:30 authored by Laura Galante, Shikha Pundir, Hanna Lagstrom, Samuli Rautava, Clare Reynolds, Amber MilanAmber Milan, David Cameron-Smith, Mark Vickers
Background: Human milk bioactives may play a role in infant health and development. Although the variability in their concentrations in milk is well-established, the impact of differential milk profiles on infant growth outcomes remains unclear. Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate whether different concentrations of metabolic hormones are associated with different weight and BMI in infants beyond the first year of life. Methods: Milk samples at 2.6 (±0.4) months after birth and anthropometric measures at 13 months, 2, 3, and 5 years were collected as part of the Finnish STEPS cohort study from 501 mothers and the respective 507 infants. Leptin, adiponectin, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 and cyclic glycine-proline (cGP) in milk were analyzed. Multiple regression models and a repeated measures mixed model were used to examine associations between milk hormone concentrations and weight and BMI z-scores across time, at each time-point, and weight gain from birth to each follow-up visit. All models were corrected for birth weight, infant sex, duration of exclusive and total breastfeeding, time of introduction of solid foods and maternal pre-pregnancy BMI. Results: Higher milk IGF-1 was associated with higher weight at 13 months (p = 0.004) but lower weight at 3 (p = 0.011) and 5 years of age (p = 0.049). Higher cGP was associated with lower weight across the 5 years (p = 0.019) but with higher BMI at 5 years (p = 0.021). Leptin and adiponectin did not display associations with infant growth at this time. Sex interactions were also absent. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the interplay between human milk-borne IGF-1 and cGP is similar to that reported in other mammals and may have an important role in defining infant growth trajectories beyond the first year of life. Further research should explore the determinants and origins of these milk-borne compounds and evaluate their effect on infant growth and metabolism.


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Copyright © 2020 Galante, Pundir, Lagström, Rautava, Reynolds, Milan, CameronSmith and Vickers. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • English

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Frontiers Media

Journal title

Frontiers in Nutrition




Galante, L., Pundir, S., Lagström, H., Rautava, S., Reynolds, C. M., Milan, A. M., … Vickers, M. H. (2020). Growth factor concentrations in human milk are associated with infant weight and BMI from birth to 5 years. Frontiers in Nutrition, 7, 110. doi:10.3389/fnut.2020.00110

Report number

FBP 90583

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