Hormones in breast milk and effect on infants’ growth: A systematic review

Alessandra Mazzocchi, Maria Lorella Giannì, Daniela Morniroli, Ludovica Leone, Paola Roggero, Carlo Agostoni, Valentina De Cosmi, Fabio Mosca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Breast milk is characterized by a dynamic and complex composition which includes hormones and other bioactive components that could influence infant growth, development, and optimize health. Among the several beneficial effects associated with prolonged breastfeeding, a 13% decrease in the risk of overweight and obesity has been reported. Recent research has focused on breast milk hormones contributing to the appetite and energy balance regulation and adiposity. Accordingly, we conducted a literature systematic review with the aim to provide an update on the effect of leptin, ghrelin, Insulin Growth Factor 1, adiponectin, and insulin on infants’ and children’s growth and body composition. The revised literature reveals contrasting findings concerning the potential role of all these hormones on modeling growth and fat mass apposition and health outcomes later in life. Further studies are needed to gain further insight into the specific role of these bioactive components in metabolic pathways related to body composition. This could help gain a further insight on infants’ growth, both in physiological and pathological settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1845
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Adipokines
  • Body composition
  • Breast milk
  • Growth
  • Hormones
  • Term infant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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