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Open Access Study protocol

Impact of maternal metabolic abnormalities in pregnancy on human milk and subsequent infant metabolic development: methodology and design

Sylvia H Ley1, Deborah L O'Connor12, Ravi Retnakaran34, Jill K Hamilton5, Mathew Sermer6, Bernard Zinman347 and Anthony J Hanley134*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

2 Physiology and Experimental Medicine, Department of Clinical Dietetics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

3 Division of Endocrinology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

4 Leadership Sinai Centre for Diabetes, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada

5 Department of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

6 Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada

7 Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:590  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-590

Published: 6 October 2010

Abstract

Background

Childhood obesity is on the rise and is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes later in life. Recent evidence indicates that abnormalities that increase risk for diabetes may be initiated early in infancy. Since the offspring of women with diabetes have an increased long-term risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, the impact of maternal metabolic abnormalities on early nutrition and infant metabolic trajectories is of considerable interest. Human breast milk, the preferred food during infancy, contains not only nutrients but also an array of bioactive substances including metabolic hormones. Nonetheless, only a few studies have reported concentrations of metabolic hormones in human milk specifically from women with metabolic abnormalities. We aim to investigate the impact of maternal metabolic abnormalities in pregnancy on human milk hormones and subsequently on infant development over the first year of life. The objective of this report is to present the methodology and design of this study.

Methods/Design

The current investigation is a prospective study conducted within ongoing cohort studies of women and their offspring. Pregnant women attending outpatient obstetrics clinics in Toronto, Canada were recruited. Between April 2009 and July 2010, a total of 216 pregnant women underwent a baseline oral glucose tolerance test and provided medical and lifestyle history. Follow-up visits and telephone interviews are conducted and expected to be completed in October 2011. Upon delivery, infant birth anthropometry measurements and human breast milk samples are collected. At 3 and 12 months postpartum, mothers and infants are invited for follow-up assessments. Interim telephone interviews are conducted during the first year of offspring life to characterize infant feeding and supplementation behaviors.

Discussion

An improved understanding of the link between maternal metabolic abnormalities in pregnancy and early infant nutrition may assist in the development of optimal prevention and intervention strategies and in the protection of nutritionally vulnerable offspring who are at risk for obesity and diabetes later in life.