Development of Visceral and Subcutaneous-Abdominal Adipose Tissue in Breastfed Infants during First Year of Lactation

Nutrients. 2021 Sep 21;13(9):3294. doi: 10.3390/nu13093294.


This study aimed to investigate relationships between infant abdominal visceral and subcutaneous adiposity and human milk (HM) components and maternal body composition (BC) during first year of lactation. Subcutaneous-abdominal depth (SAD), subcutaneous-abdominal fat area (SFA), visceral depth (VD) and preperitoneal fat area of 20 breastfed infants were assessed at 2, 5, 9 and 12 months using ultrasound. Maternal BC was determined with bioimpedance spectroscopy. HM macronutrients and bioactive components concentrations and infant 24-h milk intake were measured and calculated daily intakes (CDI) determined. Maternal adiposity associated with infant SFA (negatively at 2, 5, 12, positively at 9 months, all overall p < 0.05). 24-h milk intake positively associated with infant SAD (p = 0.007) and VD (p = 0.013). CDI of total protein (p = 0.013), total carbohydrates (p = 0.004) and lactose (p = 0.013) positively associated with SFA. Lactoferrin concentration associated with infant VD (negatively at 2, 12, positively at 5, 9 months, overall p = 0.003). CDI of HM components and maternal adiposity have differential effects on development of infant visceral and subcutaneous abdominal adiposity. Maintaining healthy maternal BC and continuing breastfeeding to 12 months and beyond may facilitate favourable BC development reducing risk of obesity.

Keywords: abdominal adiposity; body composition; human milk; infants; intake; lactation; macronutrients; obesity; subcutaneous-abdominal fat; visceral fat.

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / analysis
  • Adiposity
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Weight
  • Breast Feeding / methods*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism*
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Leptin / analysis
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Nutrients / analysis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Subcutaneous Fat, Abdominal / metabolism*


  • Adiponectin
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Leptin