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Hormones in Breast Milk and Effect on Infants’ Growth: A Systematic Review

Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health, University of Milan, 20122 Milan, Italy
Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, NICU, 20122 Milan, Italy
Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit, 20122 Milan, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(8), 1845;
Received: 19 July 2019 / Revised: 6 August 2019 / Accepted: 7 August 2019 / Published: 9 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Milk and Lactation)
PDF [539 KB, uploaded 9 August 2019]


Breast milk is characterized by a dynamic and complex composition which includes hormones and other bioactive components that could influence infant growth, development, and optimize health. Among the several beneficial effects associated with prolonged breastfeeding, a 13% decrease in the risk of overweight and obesity has been reported. Recent research has focused on breast milk hormones contributing to the appetite and energy balance regulation and adiposity. Accordingly, we conducted a literature systematic review with the aim to provide an update on the effect of leptin, ghrelin, Insulin Growth Factor 1, adiponectin, and insulin on infants’ and children’s growth and body composition. The revised literature reveals contrasting findings concerning the potential role of all these hormones on modeling growth and fat mass apposition and health outcomes later in life. Further studies are needed to gain further insight into the specific role of these bioactive components in metabolic pathways related to body composition. This could help gain a further insight on infants’ growth, both in physiological and pathological settings. View Full-Text
Keywords: hormones; adipokines; breast milk; growth; body composition; term infant hormones; adipokines; breast milk; growth; body composition; term infant

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Mazzocchi, A.; Giannì, M.L.; Morniroli, D.; Leone, L.; Roggero, P.; Agostoni, C.; De Cosmi, V.; Mosca, F. Hormones in Breast Milk and Effect on Infants’ Growth: A Systematic Review. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1845.

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