ISSN 1662-4009 (Online)

ESPE Yearbook of Paediatric Endocrinology (2019) 16 2.13 | DOI: 10.1530/ey.16.2.13

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

To read the full abstract: Am J Clin Nutr. 2019 Apr 4

The study analyzed relationships between maternal obesity and human milk metabolites, infant body composition, and postnatal weight gain.

Maternal obesity is one of the strongest predictors of childhood obesity. Although the mechanism/s by which this obesity risk is transmitted to the offspring are not known differences in infant feeding and milk composition may play a role. This study used a metabolomics approach to analyze metabolites, nutrients and small molecules in human milk that differ according to both maternal and infant weight status. Infant body composition and milk composition were analyzed in parallel at 1 and 6 months postpartum.

The study found that maternal obesity is associated with modest differences in human milk metabolome. Levels of human milk metabolites were associated with infant weight status and identify a subset of metabolites correlating with maternal BMI and infant adiposity. These data suggest that obesity associated differences in human milk composition might contribute to early childhood obesity, although this needs further evaluation. Maternal obesity was associated with metabolomic signatures in human milk. At 1-month postpartum maternal BMI was modestly associated with the abundance of human milk oligosaccharides which are known to function as prebiotics, raising the possibility that obesity associated changes in maternal milk composition may modulate infant microbiome acquisition. At 6 months postpartum maternal BMI was associated with acylcarnitines, sugar alcohols and amino acid metabolites in human milk, a pattern reminiscent of the plasma metabolomics signature in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

The association between milk adenine and both maternal and infant weight status raises the possibility that some milk constituents might play a role in the mother-to-child transmission of obesity. Thus, maternal obesity leads to changes in the milk metabolome and this might have a role in transmission of obesity from mother to infant. Further studies in this area will help in understanding this interesting observation.

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