Lactoferrin concentration in breast milk of mothers of low-birth-weight newborns

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Lactoferrin (LF) is a breast milk glycoprotein with protective effects against neonatal infections, mainly in premature and low-birth-weight (LBW) neonates. The aims of this study were to determine LF concentration in breast milk of mothers of LBW infants during the first 2 months postpartum, and to identify the factors associated with LF concentration.


Prospective study conducted as a part of an ongoing clinical trial in three Neonatal Units in Peru. We included 346 mothers of neonates with a birth weight <2000 g. We measured LF concentration in four stages of lactation using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit. Multivariate analysis was performed to assess the association between maternal and neonatal factors, and LF concentration.


We collected 695 milk samples. LF mean concentration ± standard deviation was 14.92 ± 7.96 mg ml-1 in colostrum (n = 277), 10.73 ± 5.67 in transitional milk (n = 55), 10.34 ± 6.27 at 1 month (n = 259) and 8.52 ± 6.47 at 2 months (n = 104). There was a significant difference in LF concentration between different stages of lactation (P<0.001). Mothers with higher LF concentration in colostrum had higher values in the following 2 months. High maternal income and multiple gestation were significantly associated with higher LF levels; in contrast, maternal peripartum infections and male neonatal gender were associated with lower LF levels.


LF concentration in breast milk of mothers of LBW infants was high and remained elevated even at 1 and 2 months postpartum. LF concentration in colostrum was higher in mothers with higher income and multiple pregnancies, and lower in mothers with peripartum infections.

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