Breast-Milk Cortisol and Cortisone Concentrations Follow the Diurnal Rhythm of Maternal Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity.

The Journal of nutrition

PubMedID: 27629575

van der Voorn B, de Waard M, van Goudoever JB, Rotteveel J, Heijboer AC, Finken MJ. Breast-Milk Cortisol and Cortisone Concentrations Follow the Diurnal Rhythm of Maternal Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis Activity. J Nutr. 2016;.
BACKGROUND
Very preterm infants often receive donor milk from mothers who deliver at term, but its composition differs from that of their own mother's milk. Because breast-milk glucocorticoids can support developing neonates, we explored concentration variability within and between mothers.

OBJECTIVE
We hypothesized that breast-milk glucocorticoid concentrations would be higher after very preterm delivery [gestational age (GA) <32 wk; study 1] and would follow the diurnal rhythm of maternal adrenocortical activity (study 2).

METHODS
Study 1 assessed differences in milk cortisol, cortisone, and the cortisone-to-(cortisol+cortisone) ratio of mothers who delivered at (median) GA: 28.6 wk or at term weekly during the first month postpartum. Study 2 assessed variations in milk cortisol, cortisone, and the cortisone-to-(cortisol+cortisone) ratio over 24 h, and tested Pearson correlations between milk and salivary concentrations in mothers who delivered at term (median GA: 38.9 wk) during week 4 postpartum. In these studies, foremilk glucocorticoids were measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Associations of milk cortisol, milk cortisone, and the milk cortisone-to-(cortisol+cortisone) ratio with prematurity (study 1) or collection time (study 2) were studied with longitudinal data analyses.

RESULTS
In study 1, giving birth to a very preterm infant was associated with reductions in milk cortisol and cortisone concentrations of 50% (ß: 0.50; 95% CI: 0.26, 0.99; P = 0.05) and 53% (ß: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.30, 0.93; P = 0.03), respectively, when adjusted for collection time. In study 2, concentrations of milk cortisol and cortisone were associated with collection time (both P < 0.01), peaking at ~0700. Milk and salivary concentrations of cortisol (r = 0.92, P < 0.01) and cortisone (r = 0.93, P < 0.01) as well as the cortisone-to-(cortisol+cortisone) ratio (r = 0.64, P < 0.01) were correlated with one another.

CONCLUSIONS
Breast-milk glucocorticoid concentrations follow the diurnal rhythm of maternal hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity and are lower in mothers who deliver very preterm.