Differential transfer of dietary flavour compounds into human breast milk

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


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding / psychology*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Flavoring Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Male
  • Milk, Human* / chemistry
  • Time Factors
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology*


  • Flavoring Agents