Association of maternal breast milk and serum levels of macronutrients, hormones, and maternal body composition with infant’s body weight

  • European Journal of Clinical Nutritionvolume 72pages394400 (2018)
  • doi:10.1038/s41430-017-0022-9
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This study was aimed to investigate the association of maternal serum and breast-milk levels of macronutrients, hormones, growth factors, and maternal body composition with infant’s body weight.


Eighty mother–infant pairs comprised 40 with overweight or obese infant and 40 with normal-weight infant were enrolled in this study. The level of ghrelin, Leptin, adiponectin, EGF, and IGF1 in plasma and breast milk were assessed. Daily breast milk intake and macronutrient concentration along with anthropometric indices of mother–infant pairs were also assessed.


No significant differences were observed in concentrations of serum hormones between two groups (p > 0.05). However, hormones levels in maternal serum were higher than those in breast milk. A significant positive correlation was found between serum EGF and ghrelin (r = 0.57, p = 0 < 0001). Higher IGF1 in serum showed a significant association with its milk counterpart (r = 0.37). Current mother’s weight was associated with infant’s weight at the 2nd and 6th month (B = 0.023 p = 0.04, B = 0.055 p = 0.005). The breast-milk macronutrient content was not comparable between two groups. However, the average daily breast milk consumption in obese infants was higher than normals (p = 0.001). Milk EGF and leptin were related to a decrease of 59% and 46% the odds of obese infant development, respectively. There was a significant association of milk EGF and ghrelin with birth weight (B = −0.19, p = 0.04 and B = −0.2, p = 0.04, respectively), and also serum leptin with infant’s body weight at the 6th month.


Our findings provide a positive association of maternal weight, daily breast milk intake, EGF, and ghrelin with infant’s body weight.

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We would like to thank all the mothers and their infants who took part in the study. This work was supported by Research Project No. 89962, as a MSc dissertation, financed by Research Council of Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. None of the authors had a conflict of interest with respect to this article.

Author's contributions

The author’s contribution were as follows: AK and MS conceived and designed the research; AK performed the experiments; HMM, AK and FV analyzed the data, interpreted the results, prepared and drafted the manuscript; HMM and MS edited and revised the manuscript

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Author notes


    1. Students’ Research committee, Faculty of Nutrition and Food Technology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

      • Adeleh Khodabakhshi
    2. Cancer research center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

      • Adeleh Khodabakhshi
      •  & Farhad Vahid
    3. Clinical Research Unit, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

      • Hassan Mehrad-Majd
    4. Department of Nutritional Sciences, National Nutrition and Food Tecnology Research Institue, Faculty of Nutrition and Food Technology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

      • Farhad Vahid
    5. Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

      • Mohammad Safarian


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    Conflict of interest

    The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

    Corresponding authors

    Correspondence to Adeleh Khodabakhshi or Mohammad Safarian.