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Human Milk Nutrient Composition Data Scoping Review

Published February 12, 2024

Characterization of the nutrients in human milk is important to understand the dietary and developmental requirements of infants. The objective of this review was to summarize the state of the science on the nutrient composition of human milk in the United States and Canada published from 2017 to 2022. Four databases were searched for studies, and researchers limited the type to mature milk collected 21 days postpartum and beyond from lactating individuals in the United States and Canada who gave birth at 37-week gestation or later (full-term).

A total of 32 articles with primarily longitudinal cohort or cross-sectional designs were included. Carbohydrates (human milk oligosaccharides, or HMOs, glucose and lactose) and protein were the most frequently assessed nutrients, with consensus among studies that glucose is present in limited concentrations compared to lactose and that HMOs are influenced by temporality and other factors.

The included studies displayed an overall level of heterogeneity and sparsity paralleling previous reports and nutrient data in the USDA FoodData Central system. Up-to-date nutrient composition data of human milk is greatly needed, as it is paramount for the management of infant feeding, assessment of infant and maternal nutritional and health needs, and as a reference for infant formula development.

Learn more in this article published in Advances in Nutrition.

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