While the composition of human milk has been studied extensively in the first year of lactation, there is a paucity of data regarding human milk composition beyond one year postpartum. Policies vary at milk banks around the world regarding how long lactating women are eligible to donate their milk. The primary purpose of this study is to describe longitudinal changes in human milk composition in the second year postpartum to support the development of evidence based guidelines regarding how long lactating women can donate human milk to a milk bank. Nineteen lactating women in North Carolina provided monthly milk samples from 11 months to 17 months postpartum (N = 131), and two non-profit milk banks provided (N = 33) pooled, unpasteurized milk samples from 51 approved donors less than one year postpartum. There was a significant increase (P < 0.05) in the concentration of total protein, lactoferrin, lysozyme, Immunoglobulin A, oligosaccharides and sodium in longitudinal samples of mother's milk between 11 and 17 months postpartum, while zinc and calcium concentrations declined, and no changes were observed in lactose, fat, iron and potassium. Human milk in the second year postpartum contained significantly higher concentrations of total protein, lactoferrin, lysozyme and Immunoglobulin A, than milk bank samples, and significantly lower concentrations of zinc, calcium, iron and oligosaccharides. Accepting milk bank donations beyond one year postpartum is a potential strategy for increasing the supply of donor milk, but may require mineral fortification.
Keywords: human milk; lactation; milk banking; pasteurized donor milk.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.