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Maternal birth weight is associated with milk epidermal growth factor in Filipino women


Kuziez, Duaa; Harkey, Jamie; Burack, Sarah; Borja, Judith; & Quinn, Elizabeth A. (2020). Maternal birth weight is associated with milk epidermal growth factor in Filipino women. American Journal of Human Biology, 32(6), e23403.


OBJECTIVES: Lactational programming, through which milk-borne bioactives influence both neonatal and long-term biological development, is well established. However, almost no research has investigated how developmental stimuli during a mother's early life may influence her milk bioactives in adulthood. Here, we investigated the association between maternal birth weight and milk epidermal growth factor (EGF) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGF-R) in later life. We predicted there would be a decrease in both milk EGF and EGF-R in the milk produced by mothers who were themselves born low birth weight. METHODS: Study participants are from the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey. Mothers (n = 69) were followed longitudinally since birth with prospective data collection. Anthropometrics, health, and dietary recalls were collected with early morning milk samples when mothers were 24 to 25 years of age. Milk samples were analyzed for EGF and its receptor (EGF-R). Analysis of variance was used to test for differences in milk EGF and EGF-R between low and average birthweight mothers after adjustment for parity, age, and maternal dietary energy intake. RESULTS: Mothers who were low birth weight produced milk with significantly less EGF and more EGF-R which resulted in a lower ratio of EGF to EGF-R. These associations persisted after adjustment for infant age, maternal adiposity, and dietary energy. CONCLUSIONS: While this is a small sample size, these preliminary findings suggest that maternal early life characteristics, such as birth weight, may be important contributors to variation in milk bioactives. Future work is necessary to understand how variation in maternal early life may influence milk composition in adulthood.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Human Biology


Kuziez, Duaa
Harkey, Jamie
Burack, Sarah
Borja, Judith
Quinn, Elizabeth A.