Food and Behaviour Research

Donate Log In

Maternal obesity and the human milk metabolome: associations with infant body composition and postnatal weight gain

Isganaitis E, Venditti S, Matthews TJ, Lerin C, Demerath EW, Fields DA (2019) Am J Clin Nutr.  2019 Apr 4.  pii: nqy334. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy334. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: Read this and related abstracts on PubMed here

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Maternal obesity is a risk factor for childhood obesity; this is a major public health concern given that ∼40% of pregnant women are either overweight or obese. Whether differences in milk composition in lean compared with obese women contribute to childhood obesity is unclear.

OBJECTIVES:

We aimed to analyze relationships between maternal obesity and human milk metabolites, infant body composition, and postnatal weight gain.

METHODS:

This was a prospective study in which mothers intending to breastfeed exclusively, and their newborn infants, were enrolled at delivery (n = 35 mother-infant pairs). We excluded mothers with diabetes, other medical conditions, or pregnancy complications. Participants were grouped by maternal prepregnancy BMI <25 (lean) or ≥25 kg/m2 (overweight/obese). We analyzed infant body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and used untargeted liquid chromatography-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to measure the milk content of 275 metabolites at 1 and 6 mo postpartum.

RESULTS:

At 1 mo postpartum, 10 metabolites differed between overweight/obese and lean groups with nominal P < 0.05, but none was altered with a false discovery rate <0.25. Many differentially abundant metabolites belonged to the same chemical class; e.g., 4/10 metabolites were nucleotide derivatives, and 3/10 were human milk oligosaccharides. Milk adenine correlated positively with both continuously distributed maternal BMI and with infant adiposity and fat accrual. Analysis of milk composition at 6 mo postpartum revealed 20 differentially abundant metabolites (P < 0.05) in overweight/obese compared with lean women, including 6 metabolites with a false discovery rate of <0.25. At both 1 and 6 mo, human milk abundance of 1,5-anhydroglucitol, which has not previously been described in milk, was positively associated with maternal BMI.

CONCLUSIONS:

Maternal obesity is associated with changes in the human milk metabolome. While only a subset of metabolites correlated with both maternal and infant weight, these point to potential milk-dependent mechanisms for mother-child transmission of obesity. 

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

See the associated news article: