The Metabolomic Analysis of Human Milk Offers Unique Insights into Potential Child Health Benefits

Abstract

Purpose of Review

Human milk is the gold standard of infant nutrition. The milk changes throughout lactation and is tailored for the infant providing the nutrients, minerals and vitamins necessary for supporting healthy infant growth. Human milk also contains low molecular weight compounds (metabolites) possibly eliciting important bioactivity. Metabolomics is the study of these metabolites. The purpose of this review was to examine recent metabolomics studies and cohort studies on human milk to assess the impact of human milk metabolomic analyses combined with investigations of infant growth and development.

Recent Findings

The metabolite profile of human milk varies among other factors according to lactation stage, gestation at birth, and maternal genes, diet and disease state. Few studies investigate how these variations impact infant growth and development.

Summary

Several time-related factors affecting human milk metabolome are potentially ubiquitous among mothers, although maternal-related factors are heavily confounded, which complicates studies of metabolite abundancies and variabilities and further possibilities of observing cause and effect in infants.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the Sino-Danish Center for Education and Research for funding.

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KOP: Conceptualization, literature search, writing of original draft and editing. UKS: Conceptualization, literature search, validation, editing and supervision. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ulrik Kræmer Sundekilde.

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Poulsen, K.O., Sundekilde, U.K. The Metabolomic Analysis of Human Milk Offers Unique Insights into Potential Child Health Benefits. Curr Nutr Rep (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-020-00345-x

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Keywords

  • Human milk
  • Metabolomics
  • Infant metabolism
  • Infant nutrition