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Nutrients 2018, 10(8), 1124; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10081124

Variation in the Protein Composition of Human Milk during Extended Lactation: A Narrative Review

1
Pediatric Division, Department of Primary Care, La Vileta Surgery, 07013 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
2
Neonatal Unit, Department of Pediatrics, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, 89 Sant Quinti St, 08041 Barcelona, Spain
3
Blood and Tissue Bank of the Balearic Islands (Milk Bank), 07004 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
4
Cell Therapy and Tissue Engineering Group (TERCIT), Balearic Institute of Medical Research (IdISBa), Valldemossa Rd., 07120 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 July 2018 / Revised: 9 August 2018 / Accepted: 17 August 2018 / Published: 20 August 2018
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Abstract

The aim of this review is to evaluate changes in protein parameters in the second year postpartum. There is considerable agreement among authors about the declining trend of human milk protein concentrations, but most research on protein content in breast milk focuses on the first year of life and comes from developed countries. Whereas this is the case for exclusive breastfeeding or for breastfeeding into the first year of life, the opposite applies to weaning or extended breastfeeding. This review is predominantly based on observational epidemiological evidence and on comparative research linking breast milk composition with cutting down on breastfeeding. Studies dating back several decades have shown an increase in the proportion of immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, and serum albumin during weaning. According to the limited data available, it seems likely that the regulation of milk protein composition during involution can be ascribed to alterations in tight junctions. In studies on humans and other mammalian species, offspring suckle more from mothers that produce more dilute milk and the increase in milk protein concentration is positively correlated to a decrease in suckling frequency during weaning. High milk protein contents were first reported in nonindustrial communities where breastfeeding is sustained the longest, but recent papers from urbanized communities have taken credit for rediscovering the increase in protein content of human milk that becomes evident with prolonged breastfeeding. This review presents an overview of the changes in breast milk protein parameters in the second year postpartum to enable milk banks’ practitioners to make informed nutritional decisions on preterm infants. View Full-Text
Keywords: milk bank; premature infant; breastfeeding; human milk physiology; lactation chemistry; nutritional requirements milk bank; premature infant; breastfeeding; human milk physiology; lactation chemistry; nutritional requirements
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Verd, S.; Ginovart, G.; Calvo, J.; Ponce-Taylor, J.; Gaya, A. Variation in the Protein Composition of Human Milk during Extended Lactation: A Narrative Review. Nutrients 2018, 10, 1124.

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