The effect of caloric supplementation on selected milk protective factors in undernourished Guatemalan mothers

Pediatr Res. 1993 Aug;34(2):217-21. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199308000-00024.


The level and avidity indices of specific antibodies against tetanus toxoid, Escherichia coli O6 and a pool of 10 common E. coli O antigens, as well as the concentration and daily output of lactoferrin and total secretory IgA (SIgA), were evaluated in the milk of moderately undernourished mothers who were in a random blind design divided into two groups and given different caloric supplementations. Group A received a high caloric supplement (500 kcal/d), and group B received a low caloric supplement (140 kcal/d). Determinations were done using ELISA in various modifications, except for lactoferrin, which was quantified by single radial immunodiffusion. The avidity indices were investigated as an evaluation of the antibody quality. In all the parameters evaluated, the only difference found between the two groups at the end of the supplementation period was in the content of total SIgA, which was lower in group B, both in concentration and daily output. However, the SIgA remained within the normal range. Increases as well as decreases in the levels of specific IgA antibodies occurred within both groups. Avidity was decreased in group B only against one of the antigens tested. We conclude that moderate undernutrition does not impair the levels of milk antibodies, and supplementation does not enhance them but prevents the decrease in the content of total milk SIgA. There is a suggestion that the avidity of certain antibody specificities could be hampered.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Antibody Affinity
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified*
  • Guatemala
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / biosynthesis*
  • Lactoferrin / metabolism
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism
  • Nutrition Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Nutrition Disorders / immunology*
  • Nutrition Disorders / metabolism
  • Tetanus Toxoid / immunology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Tetanus Toxoid
  • Lactoferrin