Send to

Choose Destination
J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Feb;18(2):181-7.

Longitudinal investigation of the relationship between breast milk leptin levels and growth in breast-fed infants.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, Turkey.



It has been shown that leptin is present in breast milk and human mammary epithelial cells are able to synthesize leptin. It has been suggested that leptin in human milk might be involved in the regulation of postnatal nutrition and growth.


To investigate whether there is a relationship between leptin levels in human milk and weight gain in the postnatal period and to compare variations of milk-borne maternal leptin concentrations for small for gestational age (SGA), large for gestational age (LGA) and appropriate for gestational age (AGA) infants.


Forty-seven healthy lactating women aged from 17-38 years and their infants were included in the study. The infants were separated into three groups according to birth weight as SGA (n = 11), LGA (n = 14) and AGA (n = 22). All infants were fed with breast milk during the study period. Anthropometric measurements were performed on the 15th day of life and at 1, 2, and 3 months of age, and the body mass index (BMI) of the infants' mothers was calculated. Breast milk leptin levels were analyzed by radioimmunoassay.


Breast milk leptin levels were found reduced in the SGA group and increased in the LGA group compared to the AGA group at 15 days of life (13.4 +/- 2.2, 28.5 +/- 4.4 and 18.4 +/- 2 ng/ml, respectively; p <0.05). At 1 month of age, leptin levels in breast milk were significantly lower in the LGA group than in the AGA group (15.5 +/- 4.9, 19.4 +/- 1.7 ng/ml, respectively; p<0.05). There was no difference among the three groups at 2 and 3 months of age (p>0.05). There was a positive correlation between birth Weight and breast milk leptin levels on the 15th day (r = 0.47, p = 0.001). A negative correlation was found between weight gain during the first 15 days and 1 month of life and breast milk leptin levels on the 15th day (r = -0.44, p = 0.002; r = -0.40, p = 0.005, respectively). No relationship could be determined between breast milk leptin levels and BMI of the mothers.


Maternal milk of SGA, LGA and AGA infants had different leptin levels, especially during the first month of life. More rapid growth was shown in the SGA infants during the first postnatal 15 days compared to AGA and LGA infants, and human milk leptin levels were significantly reduced in the SGA group. However, LGA infants gained more weight during the second 15 days of life and breast milk leptin levels were dramatically decreased in LGA and increased in SGA infants at the end of first month of life. These findings suggest that the presence of leptin in breast milk might have a significant role in growth, appetite and regulation of nutrition in infancy, especially during the early lactation period, and the production of leptin in breast tissue by human mammary epithelial cells might be regulated physiologically according to necessity and state of the infant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center