Maternal milk consumption and offspring’s growth

2 min read /
General Nutrition Obstetrics / Gynaecology Healthy Eating & Hydration
Maternal milk consumption and offspring’s growth

Previous studies have suggested the effect of milk consumption during pregnancy on offspring’s growth in utero, while the effect tracks into later life remains unclear.

Previous studies have suggested that milk consumption during pregnancy may have growth-promoting effects on the offspring in utero. Whether this effect tracks beyond the prenatal period remains unclear. 

  • Method:
    • A prospective cohort study of 809 pregnant women in Denmark.
    • Assessment of milk consumption at gestational week 30.
    • Measurement of birth weight and birth length, with offspring’s height- and growth-related biomarkers at ~20 years of age.
  • Key Findings:
    • As compared with maternal milk consumption of < 150 ml/day, consumption of ≥ 150 ml/day was associated with:

- 0.32 higher z-scores for birth weight and 0.34 higher z-scores for birth length.

- 0.19 higher z-scores for height at ~20 years of age (P = 0.16).

- ~8% higher levels of insulin-like growth factor I and ~14% higher insulin levels (P-values = 0.12 and 0.11 respectively).

  • Conclusion:
    Maternal milk consumption may have a growth-promoting influence on weight and length at birth, and the effect may track into early adult age.



Hrolfsdottir L, Rytter D, Hammer Bech B, Brink Henriksen T, Danielsen I, Steingrimsdottir L, Olsen SF, Halldorsson TI. Maternal milk consumption, birth size and adult height of offspring: a prospective cohort study with 20 years of follow-up. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Sep 4. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.151. [Epub ahead of print]. Link to PubMed