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Objective: The first three months after birth is a critical time interval for growth and development. Breastmilk is a natural nutrition source for infants. However, studies on the practice of exclusive breastfeeding and infant growth tend to result in contradictions. The objective of this study was to investigate the correlation between breastmilk macronutrient levels and infant growth during the first three months.
Methods: We conducted an observational cohort study at Universitas Airlangga Hospital from June-October 2018. Subjects were enrolled using total sampling. Infant anthropometry, as defined by body weight, body length, and head circumference, were measured. Breastmilk specimens were collected using a breast pump and then sent directly for analysis. Lactose, protein, fat, and total calorie levels were obtained using a human milk analyzer. Procedures were repeated three times, once per month. The Pearson correlation coefficient was used for statistical analysis.
Results: Forty participants were enrolled in this study. There was a positive correlation between breastmilk total calories and head circumference growth during the first (p = 0.039), second (p = 0.020), and third month (p = 0.020). Breastmilk protein level was positively correlated with body length (p < 0.05) and head circumference (p < 0.05) during the first month. There was no correlation between body weight and breastmilk macronutrients or total calories (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: Breastmilk macronutrient levels correlate to infant growth in a unique pattern. Total calories and first month protein correlated positively with infant head circumference. However, calorie source, e.g., lactose or fat, did not correlate with infant body weight and length.
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