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Eur J Clin Nutr. 1992 May;46(5):337-48.

Lactation performance of rural Mesoamerindians.

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  • 1Division de Crecimiento y Desarrollo, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, DF.


Anthropometry, body composition and dietary intake of 30 lactating Otomi Indians of Capulhuac, Mexico, were studied to identify maternal factors which potentially limit lactation and thereby infant growth. Human milk production, milk composition, and maternal dietary intake, body weight, skinfold thicknesses, and body composition were measured at 4 and 6 months postpartum. The 2H2O dose-to-mother method was used to estimate milk production and maternal total body water (TBW). Fat-free mass (FFM) was calculated as TBW/0.73. Body fat was computed as body weight minus FFM. Human milk samples were analyzed for energy, nitrogen, lactose and fat using standard analytical methods. Maternal diet was assessed by three 24-h intake recalls. Mean (SD) milk production was 885 (146) and 869 (150) g/d at 4 and 6 months, respectively. Milk concentrations of protein nitrogen (1.23 (0.17) mg/g) and lactose (66.6 (2.8) mg/g) were comparable to, but the concentrations of fat (22.2 (6.7) mg/g) and energy (0.54 (0.06) kcal/g) were lower than, values observed in economically privileged populations. Maternal height, weight, and BMI were 1.47 (0.06) m, 50.3 (6.0) kg, and 23.4 (3.1) kg/m2, respectively. Maternal TBW, FFM and body fat were 55.8 (4.6)%, 76.4 (6.3)%, and 23.6 (6.4)%, expressed as a percentage of body weight, respectively. Maternal energy and protein intakes averaged 1708 (338) kcal/d and 40 (10) g/d, respectively. Milk production was negatively correlated with maternal body fat (P = 0.006). Energy and fat concentrations in the milk of the Otomi women were positively related to their weight (P = 0.002), BMI (P = 0.05), and body fat (P = 0.004). Energy concentrations in milk were not related to rates of milk production (r = 0.24; P = 0.23). Nor was milk production or composition significantly associated with maternal dietary intake. Lactation performance of these Otomi women correlated significantly with maternal body size and composition, but not current dietary intake.

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