Composition of Breastmilk

Karen - posted on 02/17/2011 ( 4 moms have responded )




I am looking for information on the composition of breastmilk in the third year.
My daughter (27 months) has not gained any weight in the last almost 10 months. We are concerned that she's not getting enough calories. Since she's still bfing throughout the day and night, we need to know an approximate idea of what she's getting from me, what she's eating and then what's missing. Can anyone help?


Celeste - posted on 02/18/2011




From what I understand, there isn't much research about breastmilk beyond the age of two but that doesn't mean breastmilk isn't valuable. Here's what I got from kellymom:

* Although there has been little research done on children who breastfeed beyond the age of two, the available information indicates that breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as breastfeeding continues.

* "Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant."

-- Mandel 2005

* "Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins."

-- Dewey 2001

* In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:

o 29% of energy requirements

o 43% of protein requirements

o 36% of calcium requirements

o 75% of vitamin A requirements

o 76% of folate requirements

o 94% of vitamin B12 requirements

o 60% of vitamin C requirements

-- Dewey 2001

* Studies done in rural Bangladesh have shown that breastmilk continues to be an important source of vitamin A in the second and third year of life.

-- Persson 1998

* It's not uncommon for weaning to be recommended for toddlers who are eating few solids. However, this recommendation is not supported by research. According to Sally Kneidel in "Nursing Beyond One Year" (New Beginnings, Vol. 6 No. 4, July-August 1990, pp. 99-103.):

Some doctors may feel that nursing will interfere with a child's appetite for other foods. Yet there has been no documentation that nursing children are more likely than weaned children to refuse supplementary foods. In fact, most researchers in Third World countries, where a malnourished toddler's appetite may be of critical importance, recommend continued nursing for even the severely malnourished (Briend et al, 1988; Rhode, 1988; Shattock and Stephens, 1975; Whitehead, 1985). Most suggest helping the malnourished older nursing child not by weaning but by supplementing the mother's diet to improve the nutritional quality of her milk (Ahn and MacLean. 1980; Jelliffe and Jelliffe, 1978) and by offering the child more varied and more palatable foods to improve his or her appetite (Rohde, 1988; Tangermann, 1988; Underwood, 1985).


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Karen - posted on 02/17/2011




She's grown a lot (she's in the 90% for height) in that time.
I've talked to my naturopath and she would like to see a bit more weight gain - but she's not overly concerned.
Part of the reason we are hoping to figure this out is that she wakes up frequently at night and drains both breasts and then goes back to sleep. I'm hoping to make sure that she's getting enough calories during the day, and then she'll be a little less apt to make up the difference at night.

Amy - posted on 02/17/2011




Has she increased in height? If she is still on the same percentile for height it's not a huge concern if her weight has stayed the same. My son is 5 and in the past year he's dropped drastically in weight percentile, the doctor was not concerned at all because he's stayed on a steady curve for height so therefore he's not being labeled as a failure to thrive. Although we did schedule another appointment in 5 months because I'm concerned. Have you spoken to your doctor about your concern?

Rachael - posted on 02/17/2011




I couldn't tell you the composition unless you send your own breast milk to a mass spectrometer. What I can assure you of is that by 27 months growth begins to slow down. they are utilizing more calories with locamotion and cognative development. As long as she is not losing weight and her growth is not fallen to a much lower percentile you should rest assured that she is doing okay!

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