Dietary patterns of breastfeeding mothers and human milk composition: Data from the italian MEDIDIET study

The MEDIDIET Working Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


(1) Background: Several studies have reported associations between maternal diet in terms of single foods or nutrients and human milk compounds, while the overall role of maternal diet and related dietary patterns has rarely been investigated. (2) Methods: Between 2012 and 2014, we enrolled 300 healthy Italian mothers, who exclusively breastfed their infant. During a hospital visit at 6 weeks postpartum, a sample of freshly expressed foremilk was collected and information on maternal dietary habits in the postpartum period was obtained through an intervieweradministered food frequency questionnaire. We applied principal component factor analysis to selected nutrients in order to identify maternal dietary patterns, and assessed correlations in human milk macronutrients and fatty acids across levels of dietary patterns. (3) Results: Five dietary patterns were identified, named “Vitamins, minerals and fibre”, “Proteins and fatty acids with legs”, “Fatty acids with fins”, “Fatty acids with leaves”, “Starch and vegetable proteins”. These dietary patterns were correlated with some milk components, namely fatty acids, and in particular ω-3 and its subcomponents. (4) Conclusions: This study showed that overall maternal dietary habits during breastfeeding may influence human milk composition, suggesting the importance of adequate maternal nutrition during lactation not only for the mother herself but also to provide the infant with milk containing adequate amount and quality of nutrients for a balanced nutrition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1722
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Dietary patterns
  • Factor analysis
  • Human milk
  • Maternal nutrition breastfeeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Dietary patterns of breastfeeding mothers and human milk composition: Data from the italian MEDIDIET study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this