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The Effect of Gestational and Lactational Age on the Human Milk Metabolome

Department of Food Science, Aarhus University, Årslev 5792, Denmark
School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Cork T12 YN60, Ireland
Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, University College Cork, Cork T12 YN60, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2016, 8(5), 304;
Received: 1 April 2016 / Revised: 28 April 2016 / Accepted: 16 May 2016 / Published: 19 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients in Infancy)
Human milk is the ideal nutrition source for healthy infants during the first six months of life and a detailed characterisation of the composition of milk from mothers that deliver prematurely (<37 weeks gestation), and of how human milk changes during lactation, would benefit our understanding of the nutritional requirements of premature infants. Individual milk samples from mothers delivering prematurely and at term were collected. The human milk metabolome, established by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, was influenced by gestational and lactation age. Metabolite profiling identified that levels of valine, leucine, betaine, and creatinine were increased in colostrum from term mothers compared with mature milk, while those of glutamate, caprylate, and caprate were increased in mature term milk compared with colostrum. Levels of oligosaccharides, citrate, and creatinine were increased in pre-term colostrum, while those of caprylate, caprate, valine, leucine, glutamate, and pantothenate increased with time postpartum. There were differences between pre-term and full-term milk in the levels of carnitine, caprylate, caprate, pantothenate, urea, lactose, oligosaccharides, citrate, phosphocholine, choline, and formate. These findings suggest that the metabolome of pre-term milk changes within 5–7 weeks postpartum to resemble that of term milk, independent of time of gestation at pre-mature delivery. View Full-Text
Keywords: pre-term; infant; nutrition; human milk; metabolites; NMR; metabolomics pre-term; infant; nutrition; human milk; metabolites; NMR; metabolomics
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Sundekilde, U.K.; Downey, E.; O’Mahony, J.A.; O’Shea, C.-A.; Ryan, C.A.; Kelly, A.L.; Bertram, H.C. The Effect of Gestational and Lactational Age on the Human Milk Metabolome. Nutrients 2016, 8, 304.

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