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Human milk composition similar in breastfeeding mothers with or without coeliac disease

Kavitha G.Shekar
01 Jun 2016

Human milk (HM) macronutrient, hormone and lipid content is similar in mothers with or without coeliac disease (CD), reported a study at the 49th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) 2016 in Athens, Greece.

“HM provides important nutrients for healthy growth and development of the newborn infant,” said study author Dr. Maria Grunewald, from the Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany. “Mothers who have CD and adhere to a gluten-free diet (GFD) should be encouraged to breastfeed their children as their milk presents no relevant differences in growth-related nutrients in comparison to the milk of mothers on a normal diet.”

Grunewald and team analyzed HM samples of 378 mothers from the PreventCD study conducted in five European countries. Of the total study participants, 187 had CD and 180 women adhered to the prescribed GFD. [ESPGHAN 2016, abstract N-O-031]

Macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), peptide hormone insulin, adiponectin, fatty acids, carnitines, phosphatidylcholines and sphingomyelines levels were determined from HM samples collected at 0 to 3 months (early sampling) and 4 to 5 months (late sampling).

No difference in the concentrations of macronutrients, hormones, polar lipids, carnitines or fatty acids were found in HM of mothers with or without CD. However, the researchers reported that palmitic acid levels were lower in early HM samples of mothers with CD (22.37 versus 22.0 weight percent; p=0.001). A similar result was observed in early HM samples of women with or without GFD (22.26 vs 22.05 weight percent; p=0.007). On the other hand, late samples showed no difference in palmitic acid levels.

A possible explanation for lower palmitic acid levels in early HM samples of mothers with CD could be that GFD affects the stimulation of palmitic acid normally synthesised by carbohydrates consumed in a regular diet, said the researchers. However, this difference is low and palmitic acid, being ubiquitous, is found everywhere and supplied through other food sources, they noted.

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Chocolate consumption is not associated with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke or both combined in postmenopausal women free of pre-existing major chronic disease, a study suggests.
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