Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

 Nutritional programming by glucocorticoids in breast milk: targets, mechanisms and possible implications
 
Vertical transmission of glucocorticoids via breast milk might pose a mechanism through which lactating women could prepare their infants for the postnatal environment. The primary source of breast-milk glucocorticoids is probably the systemic circulation. Research from our group showed that milk cortisol and cortisone concentrations follow the diurnal rhythm of maternal hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis activity, with a higher abundance of cortisone compared to cortisol. Measurement of breast-milk glucocorticoid concentrations is challenging due to possible cross-reactivity with progestagens and sex steroids, which are severely elevated during pregnancy and after parturition.