Gestational diabetes mellitus is associated with differences in human milk hormone and cytokine concentrations in a fully breastfeeding United States cohort Journal Article uri icon


  • It is unclear whether gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) alters breast milk composition. We prospectively examined associations of GDM status with concentrations of six potentially bioactive elements (glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), leptin, and adiponectin) in human milk. These were measured at both 1 and 3 months postpartum in 189 fully breastfeeding women. Mixed-effects linear regression assessed GDM status-related differences in these milk bioactives, adjusting for demographics, maternal factors, and diet. At 1 and 3 months postpartum, milk CRP was higher (1.46 ± 0.31 ng/mL; p < 0.001 and 1.69 ± 0.31 ng/mL; p < 0.001) in women with GDM than in women without GDM, whereas milk glucose (-5.23 ± 2.22 mg/dL; p = 0.02 and -5.70 ± 2.22; p = 0.01) and milk insulin (-0.38 ± 0.17 μIU/mL; p = 0.03 and -0.53 ± 0.17; p = 0.003) were lower in women with GDM. These significant associations remained similar after additional adjustment for maternal weight status and its changes. No difference was found for milk IL-6, leptin, and adiponectin. There was no evidence of association between these milk bioactive compounds and 1 h non-fasting oral glucose challenge serum glucose in the women without GDM. This prospective study provides evidence that potentially bioactive elements of human milk composition are altered in women with GDM.

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publication date

  • 2022