International Journal of
Medicine and Medical Sciences

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Med. Med. Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9723
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJMMS
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 531

Full Length Research Paper

Lactoferrin levels in human breast milk among lactating mothers with sick and healthy babies in Kaduna State, Nigeria

Ella, E. E.
  • Ella, E. E.
  • Centre for Biotechnology Research and Training, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
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Ahmad, A. A
  • Ahmad, A. A
  • Department of Microbiology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
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Umoh, V. J.
  • Umoh, V. J.
  • Department of Microbiology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
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Ogala, W. N
  • Ogala, W. N
  • Department of Microbiology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
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Balogun T. B
  • Balogun T. B
  • Department of Microbiology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
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  •  Accepted: 10 November 2009
  •  Published: 30 November 2009

Abstract

Breastfeeding of babies has received worldwide recommendation and acceptance due to its high level of bioactive constituents. Lactoferrin, an iron binding glycoprotein is one of the major bioactive components of breast milk. Lactoferrin has many proposed biological functions which include antibacterial/anti-inflammatory activities, participation in local secretory immune systems in synergism with some immunoglobulins and other protective proteins among other functions. The levels of this protein (lactoferin) in human breast milk (colostrums, transitional and mature milk) were evaluated using mothers with healthy as well as sick babies. The aim was to ascertain if the level of lactoferrin in the human breast milk has any correlation with the health status of the baby with reference to the development of neonatal sepsis. From the result gotten, the mean lactoferrin levels in the breast milk of mothers with healthy babies were colostrum (9.55±10.61 mg/ml), transitional milk (9.18±10.02 mg/ml) and mature milk (9.19±8.81 mg/ml). However, lower values were obtained that were statistically significant at P<0.05 for the lactoferrin levels in the breast milk of mothers with sick babies. The overall result showed that colostrum had the highest lactoferrin value as compared to transitional and mature milk even as the mean values in the mothers with sick babies were still significantly lower than those obtained from mothers with healthy babies. Age variations were also shown to play significant roles in the level of lactoferrin in breast milk. For the mothers with healthy babies at age 20 and below, the mean value for colostrum, transitional and mature milk were 9.00±8.36, 14.00±13.00 and 8.00± 9.00 mg/ml, respectively. The result for the mothers between 31–40 years showed 5.00±1.00 mg/ml for colostrum, 12.00±11.00 mg/ml for transitional milk and 8.00±9.00 mg/ml for mature milk. Mothers with sick babies had lower values when compared to the corresponding ages of the mothers with healthy babies. The study thus showed that lower levels of lactoferrin in mother’s breast milk could induce the development of neonatal sepsis and age variation was shown to be capable of affecting the level of lactoferrin in the breast milk.

Key words: Breast feeding, mothers, sick babies, healthy babies, lactoferin, colostrums, transitional, mature milk.