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Human Milk Adiponectin Affects Infant Weight Trajectory During the Second Year of Life

Woo, Jessica G.*; Guerrero, M. Lourdes||; Guo, Fukun; Martin, Lisa J.; Davidson, Barbara S.§; Ortega, Hilda||; Ruiz-Palacios, Guillermo M.||; Morrow, Ardythe L.§

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: April 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 4 - p 532–539
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31823fde04
Original Articles: Hepatology and Nutrition

Objective: Serum adiponectin (APN) is associated with lower childhood obesity, and APN concentration in human milk is associated with slower growth during active breast-feeding. We examined infant weight gain in the second year of life after exposure to high or low levels of mother's milk APN.

Methods: Breast-feeding mother–infant pairs were recruited in Mexico City and studied for 2 years; 192 infants with at least 12 months’ follow-up were analyzed. Monthly milk samples were assayed for APN; mothers were classified as producing high or low levels of milk APN. Infant and maternal serum APN were assessed during year 1. Infant anthropometry was measured monthly (year 1) or bimonthly (year 2), and World Health Organization z scores were calculated. Longitudinal adjusted models assessed weight-for-age and weight-for-length z score trajectories from 1 to 2 years.

Results: Maternal serum APN modestly correlated with milk APN (r = 0.37, P < 0.0001) and infant serum APN (r = 0.29, P = 0.01). Infants exposed to high milk APN experienced increasing weight-for-age and weight-for-length z scores between age 1 and 2 years in contrast to low milk APN exposure (P for group × time = 0.02 and 0.054, respectively), adjusting for growth in the first 6 months and other covariates. In contrast, infant serum APN in year 1 was not associated with the rate of weight gain in year 2.

Conclusions: High human milk APN exposure was associated with accelerated weight trajectory during the second year of life, suggesting its role in catch-up growth after slower weight gain during the first year of life.

*Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Division of Experimental Hematology and Cancer Biology

Division of Human Genetics

§Perinatal Institute, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

||National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition, Mexico City, Mexico.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jessica G. Woo, PhD, Division of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Ave, MLC 5041, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039 (e-mail:

Received 6 May, 2011

Accepted 1 August, 2011

The present study received funding from the NIH (R21-HD054029 to J.G.W., P01-13021 to A.L.M., G.M.R.P. and M.L.G.) and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Trustee Award (to J.G.W.).

L.J.M. and A.L.M. are listed on a US patent application claiming human milk adiponectin as an oral treatment for adiposity and inflammatory disorders, and L.J.M. received a portion of a licensing fee for this technology. The other authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright 2012 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN