J. Roberto Moran, Ross Vaughan, Steven Stroop, Sam Coy, Howard Johnston, Harry L. Greene

Concentrations and Total Daily Output of Micronutrients in Breast Milk of Mothers Delivering Preterm

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

SummaryThe number of preterm infants fed their own mother's milk appears to be increasing as a result of information suggesting certain benefits over milk from human milk banks or proprietary formulas. It is also apparent that the nutritional requirements of term and preterm infants differ. Thus, the finding of various deficiencies in small preterm infants indicates that studies which examine the nutrient content of milk from mothers who deliver prematurely are important to aid in suggesting appropriate supplementation. In order to provide appropriate recommendations, nutrient content must be assayed during the period of exclusive milk feedings. Accordingly, the concentrations and total daily output of breast milk zinc and copper, and vitamins A, C, and E, were examined in a group of 13 mothers delivering at or before 32 weeks gestation. Collections of a total 24‐h output were obtained every 7 days for the first 7 weeks after delivery. Concentrations of all micronutrients were similar to those reported previously during the first 5 weeks of lactation. Most striking, however, was the progressive decline in total output as well as concentration of zinc. After the first 2 weeks of lactation, levels of copper and vitamins A, C, and E were not affected by the duration of lactation. There was substantial variation between mothers in daily output of all the micronutrients. The low output of these micronutrients suggests that some attempt should be made at monitoring the mineral and vitamin status of small preterm infants fed exclusively human milk for the first 3 months of life. This is particularly true of zinc, and vitamins A, E, and C, which, because of the wide variation in output between mothers, may not always meet the recommended dietary intakes.

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