Nav: Home

Research finds pre-pregnancy weight affects infant growth response to breast milk

June 13, 2019

New Orleans, LA - In the first study of its kind, LSU Health New Orleans researchers report that women's pre-pregnancy overweight or obesity produces changes in breast milk, which can affect infant growth. The research findings are published in PLOS ONE, available online here.

"The importance of this study is that it demonstrates that breast milk contents can vary depending on mother's weight status at the time of conception and further impact the growth and development of breastfeeding infants," says Henry Nuss, PhD, Assistant Research Professor of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health and lead author.

"Childhood obesity rates in the US have increased significantly in recent decades," notes Melinda Sothern, PhD, Professor of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health. "Although many studies have shown that breastfeeding may be protective against excessive weight gain during early life, we do not fully understand why."

Breast milk contains pro-inflammatory proteins such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-six (IL-6), as well as hormones like insulin and leptin, and anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 (DHA) and omega-6 (EPA). If and how their interaction may influence infant growth has been unknown.

The research team set out to discover the interrelationships between these compounds in blood and breast milk in early postpartum women with normal BMIs and with overweight/obesity before pregnancy to determine if these components correlated to infant growth measures at age 4-8 weeks.

They compared polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammatory markers and hormones to infant weight, length, head circumference and percent fat mass at 4-8 weeks postpartum in the same group of 33 women. The researchers found that pro-inflammatory qualities of breast milk were associated with infant growth measures regardless of maternal pre-pregnancy BMI. However, infants born to women with overweight or obesity demonstrated less responsive growth to breast milk.

"Infants who are born to mothers of unhealthy weight status may be metabolically programmed to have a less favorable growth response to breast milk," Dr. Nuss adds. "These finding suggest that women of childbearing age who anticipate having a child should consider their weight status as a potential risk factor for adverse growth outcomes."
-end-
The research team, which also included Jovanny Zabaleta, PhD, Associate Research Professor of Pediatrics at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, as well as researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center, concludes that more studies are needed to assess longitudinal effects of this impact.

This research was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Louisiana/Pennington Nutrition Obesity Research Center.

LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans educates Louisiana's health care professionals. The state's flagship health sciences university, LSU Health New Orleans includes a School of Medicine, the state's only School of Dentistry, Louisiana's only public School of Public Health, and Schools of Allied Health Professions, Nursing, and Graduate Studies. LSU Health New Orleans faculty take care of patients in public and private hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In the vanguard of biosciences research in a number of areas in a worldwide arena, the LSU Health New Orleans research enterprise generates jobs and enormous economic impact. LSU Health New Orleans faculty have made lifesaving discoveries and continue to work to prevent, advance treatment, or cure disease. To learn more, visit http://www.lsuhsc.edu, http://www.twitter.com/LSUHealthNO, or http://www.facebook.com/LSUHSC.

-end-


Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Related Public Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...