Validation of mid-infrared spectroscopy for macronutrient analysis of human milk

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Human milk has considerable variation in its composition. Hence, the nutrient profile is only an estimate and can result in under- or over-estimation of the intake of preterm infants. Mid-infrared (MIR) spectroscopy is an evolving technique for analyzing human milk but needs validation before use in clinical practice.


Human milk samples from 35 mothers delivering at 35 weeks to term gestation were analyzed for macronutrients by MIR spectroscopy and by standard laboratory methods using Kjeldahl assay for protein, Mojonnier assay for fat and high-pressure liquid chromatography assay for lactose.


MIR analysis of the macronutrients in human milk correlated well with standard laboratory tests with intraclass correlation coefficients of 0.997 for fat, 0.839 for protein and 0.776 for lactose. Agreement between the two methods was excellent for fat, and moderate for protein and lactose (P < 0.001).


This methodological paper provides evidence that MIR spectroscopy can be used to analyze macronutrient composition of human milk. Agreement between the methodologies varies by macronutrient.

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