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The determination of nutritional content in birth-milk

Dr. Citra Kesumasari from Hasanuddin University, Makassar, Indonesia, and his team conducted a research project to assess the mineral concentrations of calcium, zinc, and iron in breast milk based on infant birth weight.

Regular functioning of the body requires the ingestion of micro and macronutrients daily. Normal development in an infant requires careful balance in the micro and macronutrient ratio in the diet. Infants depend solely on breast milk to immediately obtain nutrients to the body after birth up to 6 months of age. Breast milk is produced according to the specific needs of the infant. The amount of micro and macronutrients in breast milk is catered to the proper development in the infant. The composition of breast milk includes biomolecules that the infant cannot produce during early development. The absence of these biomolecules hinders protective mechanisms in the body of the infant.

The micronutrient content in breast milk is variable at different stages. It is affected by stage of lactation, maternal serum levels, dietary supplementation, etc. Maternal factors such as nutrition, socioeconomic status, diet, age, number of births, oral contraceptives, or environmental factors do not alter the micronutrient content in breast milk. The gross amount of breast milk produced is variable, but the micronutrient content does not differ. Further research showed changes in iron content in the breast milk of mothers who gave birth to low birth weight (LBW) babies. Babies born weighing less than 2500g at birth are termed low birth weight (LBW) babies. Their development is relatively incomplete at birth. They require extra care in nutrition and the environment. Breastfeeding is supplemented with synthetic formulations in LBW babies.

Researchers of multiple Universities such as Alauddin State Islamic University, Makassar, Indonesia, conducted studies to determine sufficient breast milk micronutrient content (calcium, iron, zinc) for low birth weight (LBW) babies. Thirty-seven nursing mothers in Kassi-Kassi Health Center in Makassar, Indonesia, participated in the study. The study concluded that breastmilk content remained unchanged in mothers giving birth to LBW babies.

The study also detailed the incidence of low birth weight (LBW) babies. It has been found that maternal age, chronic energy malnutrition during pregnancy are common factors.

The original research work was published in the Pakistan Journal of Nutrition

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