Breast milk is the primary source of nutrition for infants before they are able to digest solid foods. This milk is produced by the mammary glands positioned in the breast of a human female to feed a newbie. Toddlers may continue to be breastfed with the addition of solid food in combination starting from six months of child age. Breast milk comprises micronutrient and macronutrient produced naturally according to the needs of infants. Besides this, it also contains bioactive molecules that protect infants against inflammation and infection, help to mature organs, and healthy microbial colonization.
WHO recommended that the mother should start breastfeeding their babies immediately after birth because it includes calcium, zinc, iron, copper, calcium and magnesium, and many other essential micronutrients. These micronutrients quality and quantity depends on the several factors, such as micronutrient levels in the mother’s blood serum, stage of lactation in addition to the maternal factors like dietary supplements. The micronutrient content of breast milk may not be affected by socioeconomic and nutritional status, supplementation, diet, age, use of contraceptives, and number of births while other environmental factors like mother’s residence may affect the content of breast milk.
Silvestre et al. studied that micronutrient contents in breast milk decreases from week 2 to month 7 in the postnatal period while another study depicted that maternal serum micronutrient content is not related to micronutrient content. Orün et al. showed that food consumed and supplements by the mother did not affect micronutrient levels in the breast milk.
Qian et al. studied nursing mothers and found significant changes in breast milk between the groups based on where they lived. Gidrewicz D.A. and T.R. Fenton researched on micronutrient levels in full-term and pre-term infants showed no changes in breast milk content. Ejezie et al. showed in their research that iron content in breast milk from mothers who gave birth to premature babies was higher than mothers who gave birth to full-term babies.
Low birth weight (LBW) is defined as a birth weight of an infant of 2,499 g or less irrespective of gestational age. Various formulas for breast milk have been created to overcome the nutritional deficiency of LBW infants. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition recently published research to assess the mineral concentrations of zinc, calcium, and iron in breast milk based on infant birth weight.
The researchers found that despite some differences, Micronutrient like calcium, zinc, and iron content was similar in the breast milk of mothers who gave birth to LBW and normal-weight infants.