Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Ellie Brindle Evaluates Association Between Maternal Anemia and Milk Nutrients

Posted: 1/7/2019 (CSDE Research)

CSDE’s Biodemography Director Ellie Brindle collaborated on NIH-funded research seeking to evaluate whether and how milk nutrient content may change in ways that could buffer” infants against the conditions underlying maternal anemia. The resulting paper, “Buffered or impaired: Maternal anemia, inflammation and breast milk macronutrients in northern Kenya,” published by the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, evaluates associations between milk macronutrients and maternal anemia and inflammation.
Through an analysis of cross-sectional data and milk from northern Kenya (n= 204), the authors found that milk macronutrient content both increases and decreases in the presence of maternal anemia and inflammation, suggesting a more complicated and dynamic change than simple impairment of nutrient delivery during maternal stress. Maternal fat delivery to milk may be impaired under anemia, but mothers may also buffer infant nutrition against adverse conditions by elevating milk protein, lactose, or fat. This study demonstrates the importance of maternal micronutrient health for advancing the ecological understanding of human milk nutrient variation.

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