Effect of postpartum maternal infection on proteins and trace elements in colostrum and early milk

Acta Paediatr. 1996 May;85(5):537-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1996.tb14081.x.


In developing countries, maternal infections during lactation are common. In this study, we evaluated the effect of acute maternal postpartum infection on the composition of colostrum and early milk with special emphasis on milk proteins and trace elements. The study was carried out in two maternity hospitals in Lima, Peru. Subjects were normally nourished women (body mass index (BMI) > 20.0) who intended to exclusively breastfeed their child and who had fever and clinical symptoms of infection within the first 48 h postpartum (n = 34). Non-ill women of similar characteristics were selected as controls (n = 23). Blood and milk samples were taken on days 1 and 14 postpartum. An acute phase response was confirmed by significantly increased serum levels of C-reactive protein in infected women. Serum zinc levels increased significantly from day 1 to day 14, but were not affected by infection. Serum copper levels were significantly higher in ill women than in non-ill women on day 1. All participating women were breastfeeding on day 14. Whey protein levels, the whey/casein ratio and total protein levels decreased significantly with time, but were not affected by infection. There were no differences in milk iron or copper levels with time or infection. Milk zinc levels decreased significantly with time, but were not affected by infection. Maternal infection during the early postpartum period does not appear to adversely affect the initiation of lactation or milk protein and trace element contents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Colostrum / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Milk Proteins / analysis*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puerperal Infection / metabolism*
  • Trace Elements / blood*
  • Zinc / analysis


  • Milk Proteins
  • Trace Elements
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Zinc