Exercise during breastfeeding provides benefits for the infant’s metabolic health
A lipid metabolite called 12,13-diHOME is found in human breast milk. The authors of a new study say that 12,13-diHOME, as well as related metabolites in breast milk, have a protective effect against the development of obesity in children. They also suggest that a single period of physical activity of the expectant mother can increase the level of the metabolite in breast milk, which can translate into benefits for offspring in terms of healthy growth and development.
A lipid metabolite called 12,13-diHOME is found in human breast milk and appears to be associated with beneficial infant weight gain and body composition in the early postnatal period. Moreover, exercise seems to increase the level of the metabolite in breast milk and thus could benefit their offspring. This finding was recently published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The metabolite is naturally derived from the diet directly from linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid (Omega-6) found in many plant-derived oils, as well as in nuts and seeds.
The research was led by Elvira Isganaitis, a physician at the Joslin Diabetes Center and assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and David Fields, a doctor of medicine and associate professor.
“Although breast milk has long been promoted as a way to reduce the risk of childhood obesity, the data have not been fully consistent,” said Dr. Isganaitis. “The literature is contradictory and, in many cases, the protective effects of breastfeeding disappear after controlling maternal factors such as education, obesity, smoking or socio-economic status.”
“What we are actually proposing is that variations in the composition of milk between mothers may explain some of the discrepancies that have been observed in terms of childhood obesity and the risk of diabetes. In other words, some mothers may have higher amounts of protective factors in their milk.”
The main objective was a prospective cohort study that initially involved 58 pairs of mother-infant children, enrolled in the period 2015-2019. Infants were evaluated for various anthropometric parameters related to growth and body composition over a six-month follow-up period. Meanwhile, the mothers provided samples of breast milk, which were analyzed with a variety of techniques, including mass spectrometry, lipidomics and metabolomics approaches. In a separate part of the study, the authors also recruited 16 mother-infant pairs to assess the effects of a light exercise session on the amount of 12,13-diHOME in breast milk.
In addition to the identification of 12,13-diHOME in human breast milk, for the first time the authors report that a higher level of metabolite was positively associated with BMI at birth in infants, but negatively associated with various measures of adiposity, BMI and mass. fat, six months after birth.
All the metabolites it identifies are involved in so-called “browning” or “staining” of fat cells, which is a process related to an increase in energy consumption in adipose tissue, and thus the idea that infants receiving higher levels of metabolites should benefit in terms of healthier growth patterns (and potentially avoid childhood obesity).
For the smaller pilot study, which was conducted by the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center, the authors found that at one month postpartum, the overall increase in 12,13-diHOME in milk was 1.39 times after a 90-minute period. of more intense exercise.
Regarding the effects of this research, Dr. Isganaitis added: “The information that physical activity has led to measurable differences in the composition of breast milk is added to the growing literature on the multitude of effects that physical activity has on the human body. The interesting result of this study for new parents is that when a nursing mother exercises, she has the potential to not only improve her own health, but can also lead to metabolic benefits for her baby. ”
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