Milk consumption during pregnancy increases birth weight, a risk factor for the development of diseases of civilizationReport as inadecuate

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Journal of Translational Medicine

, 13:13

First Online: 16 January 2015Received: 23 October 2014Accepted: 29 December 2014DOI: 10.1186-s12967-014-0377-9

Cite this article as: Melnik, B.C., John, S.M. & Schmitz, G. J Transl Med 2015 13: 13. doi:10.1186-s12967-014-0377-9


Antenatal dietary lifestyle intervention and nutrition during pregnancy and early postnatal life are important for appropriate lifelong metabolic programming. Epidemiological evidence underlines the crucial role of increased birth weight as a risk factor for the development of chronic diseases of civilization such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. Obstetricians and general practitioners usually recommend milk consumption during pregnancy as a nutrient enriched in valuable proteins and calcium for bone growth. However, milk is not just a simple nutrient, but has been recognized to function as an endocrine signaling system promoting anabolism and postnatal growth by activating the nutrient-sensitive kinase mTORC1. Moreover, pasteurized cow’s milk transfers biologically active exosomal microRNAs into the systemic circulation of the milk consumer apparently affecting more than 11 000 human genes including the mTORC1-signaling pathway. This review provides literature evidence and evidence derived from translational research that milk consumption during pregnancy increases gestational, placental, fetal and birth weight. Increased birth weight is a risk factor for the development of diseases of civilization thus involving key disciplines of medicine. With regard to the presented evidence we suggest that dietary recommendations promoting milk consumption during pregnancy have to be re-evaluated.

KeywordsBirth weight Exosomal microRNA Fetal weight Gestational weight Milk mTORC1 Placental weight Primary prevention AbbreviationsAAsAmino acids

AGAAppropriate for gestational age

BCAABranched-chain amino acid

BMBasal membrane

BMIBody mass index

4E-BP-1Eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein 1

FGF21Fibroblast growth factor 21

GDHGlutamate dehydrogenase

GDMGestational diabetes mellitus

GHRGrowth hormone receptor

GIPGlucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide

GLP-1Glucagon-like peptide-1

HPLHuman placental lactogen

IGF-1Insulin-like growth factor-1

IGF1RInsulin-like growth factor-1 receptor

IRInsulin receptor

IRSInsulin receptor substrate

JAKJanus-activated kinase

PI3KPhosphoinositide-3 kinase

LATL-type amino acid transporter


LGALarge for gestational age

MicroRNAMicro-ribonucleic acid

mTORC1Mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1

MVMMicrovillous plasma membrane

PGHPlacental growth hormone

PRLRProlactin receptor

PTENPhosphatase and tensin homolog

RHEBRAS homolog enrich in brain

S6K1Ribosomal protein S6 kinase, 70-kD kinase 1

SOCSSuppressor of cytokine signaling


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Author: Bodo C Melnik - Swen Malte John - Gerd Schmitz


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