The effects of leptin on breastfeeding behaviour

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Breastfed infants have a reduced risk of becoming overweight and/or obese later in life. This protective effect has been partly attributed to leptin present in breastmilk. This study investigated 24-h variations of skim milk leptin and its relationship with breastmilk macronutrients and infant breastfeeding patterns. Exclusive breastfeeding mothers of term singletons (n = 19; age 10 ± 5 weeks) collected pre- and post-feed breastmilk samples for every breastfeed over a 24-h period and test-weighed their infants to determine milk intake at every breastfeed over a 24-h period. Samples (n = 454) were analysed for leptin, protein, lactose and fat content. Skim milk leptin concentration did not change with feeding (p = 0.184). However, larger feed volumes (>105 g) were associated with a decrease in post-feed leptin levels (p = 0.009). There was no relationship between the change in leptin levels and change in protein (p = 0.313) or lactose levels (p = 0.587) between pre- and post-feed milk, but there was a trend for a positive association with changes in milk fat content (p = 0.056). Leptin concentration significantly increased at night (p < 0.001) indicating a possible 24-h pattern. Leptin dose (ng) was not associated with the time between feeds (p = 0.232). Further research should include analysis of whole breastmilk and other breastmilk fractions to extend these findings.




Cannon, A. M., Kakulas, F., Hepworth, A. R., Lai, C. T., Hartmann, P. E., & Geddes, D. T. (2015). The effects of leptin on breastfeeding behaviour. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(10), 12340–12355.

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