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Daily and within-feed variation of macro- and trace-element concentrations in human milk and implications for sampling

Bilston-John, S.H., Narayanan, A., Tat Lai, C., Rea, A., Joseph, J. and Geddes, D.T. (2021) Daily and within-feed variation of macro- and trace-element concentrations in human milk and implications for sampling. Food Chemistry, 363 . Art. 130179.

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Daily variations of macro- and trace-elements in human milk (HM) are not well characterised and sampling protocols are highly variable between studies.


To investigate diurnal and within-feed variation of HM macro- and trace-elements using pre- and post- feed concentrations and to compare infant intake estimates using limited samples with measured 24-hour intake.


HM Samples were collected pre- and post- every feed in a 24-hour period from 11 mother-infant dyads. Test-weighing was used to determine the volume of HM consumed in each feed. For macro- and trace-elements within-feed and daily variation was measured. Intake estimated from a morning pre-feed sample was compared to the measured milk intake calculated from every feed over 24-hours. Macro- and trace-elements concentrations were measured using ICP-MS. Linear mixed modelling was used for statistical analysis.


Average intake of HM was 737 ± 63 mL for infants aged 1–6 months and 508 ± 50 for infants aged 6–12 months. Pre- and post-feed HM variation was found for phosphorus, calcium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, molybdenum, and iodine (p < 0.05). Variation across 24 h was found for magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, iron, and selenium (p < 0.05). Estimated intake using morning, pre-feed samples resulted in significantly lower intake when compared to measured milk intake for iron, phosphorus, selenium, and manganese (p < 0.05).


Standardised sampling protocols using large sample volumes and multiple collections over 24-hours provide a calculated intake that is more reflective of actual infant HM macro- and trace-elements intake.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Mathematics, Statistics, Chemistry and Physics
Publisher: Elsevier Limited
Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd.
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