Background: Data regarding the association between breast milk composition and infant feeding patterns (frequency and amount of breast milk taken) would help in understanding the regulation of food intake in breastfed infants.
Objective: This study examined the relationship between breast milk macronutrient concentration and patterns of milk intake in breastfeeding infants over a 24-hour breastfeeding period.
Methods: Mothers of healthy term infants (n = 15) collected pre- and postfeed breast milk samples from each feed at each breast over a 24-hour period. Breast milk samples were analyzed for fat, lactose, total protein, casein, and whey protein content. The energy content for each feed was calculated.
Results: Breastfeeding patterns and milk composition varied greatly between individuals. The fat content of milk significantly differed over 24 hours (P = .01), whereas the concentration of lactose and protein content remained the same. The mean 24-hour total protein, whey, and casein intake was inversely (P < .01), whereas lactose concentration was positively (P = .03) related to the number of breast feeds per day. No relationship was seen either between fat or energy content and feeding patterns. The mean (SD) concentration of fat, lactose, and total protein over the 24-hour period was 43 (12) g/L, 68 (7) g/L, and 13 (2) g/L, respectively.
Conclusion: The association between milk protein intake and the breastfeeding frequency suggests that the protein intake may play a role in infant appetite control.