We investigated associations between intakes of human milk (HM) components (macronutrients and biologically active molecules) and regional fat depots development in healthy term infants (n = 20) across the first year of lactation. Infant limb (mid-arm and mid-thigh) lean and fat areas were assessed by ultrasound imaging at 2, 5, 9 and 12 months of age. Concentrations of HM total protein, whey protein, casein, adiponectin, leptin, lysozyme, lactoferrin, secretory IGA, total carbohydrates, lactose, HM oligosaccharides (total HMO, calculated) and infant 24-h milk intake were measured, and infant calculated daily intakes (CDI) of HM components were determined. This pilot study shows higher 24-h milk intake was associated with a larger mid-arm fat area (p = 0.024), higher breastfeeding frequency was associated with larger mid-arm (p = 0.008) and mid-thigh (p < 0.001) fat areas. Lysozyme (p = 0.001) and HMO CDI (p = 0.004) were time-dependently associated with the mid-arm fat area. Intakes of HM components and breastfeeding parameters may modulate infant limb fat depots development during the first year of age and potentially promote favorable developmental programming of infant body composition; however, further studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Keywords: bioactive molecules; breastfeeding; fat depots; human milk; infants; intake; lactation; macronutrients; obesity; regional body composition.