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Physiol Behav. 2008 Sep 3;95(1-2):118-24. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2008.05.007. Epub 2008 May 15.

Differential transfer of dietary flavour compounds into human breast milk.

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Department of Food Science, Centre for Advanced Food Studies (LMC), Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


Transfer of dietary flavour compounds into human milk is believed to constitute the infant's early flavour experiences. This study reports on the time-dependent transfer of flavour compounds from the mother's diet to her breast milk using a within-subject design. Eighteen lactating mothers completed three test days on which they provided a baseline milk sample prior to ingestion of capsules containing 100 mg d-carvone, l-menthol, 3-methylbutyl acetate and trans-anethole. Milk samples were collected 2, 4, 6 and 8 h post-ingestion and analysed by a dynamic headspace method and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. The recovery quantities were adjusted for variations in milk fat content. Concentration-time profiles for d-carvone and trans-anethole revealed a maximum around 2 h post-ingestion, whereas the profile for l-menthol showed a plateau pattern. The ester 3-methylbutyl acetate could not be detected in the milk, but a single determination showed traces (<0.4 ppb) in a 1 h milk collection. Flavour compounds appeared to be transmitted differentially from the mother's diet to her milk. The results imply that human milk provides a reservoir for time-dependent chemosensory experiences to the infant; however, volatiles from the diet are transferred selectively and in relatively low amounts.

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