A study was conducted to determine the biochemical composition of the breast milk of Nigerian mothers of Igbo ethnic group. Apparently healthy nursing mothers (157) aged between 20-40 yeas with parities 1-5 who were attending the 6-week postnatal clinics of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu, Southeastern Nigeria were systematically sampled for breast milk. The samples collected after their babies had been fed for a while where analysed for 13-biochemical parameter using standard methods. The mean and range of values were calculated and compared with reported values. The values obtained for vitamin C, 3.0-6.0 (mean 5.1) mg/dl, sodium 12.0-36.0 mmol/l, urea, 3.0-8.0 mmol/l (mean 7.0) are higher while values for sugar, 35-64mmol/l (mean 52.0), triglycerides 0.36-0.95 mmol/l (mean 0.63), creatinine 159-364µol/l (mean 239), chloride, 4.4-10.6 mmol/l (mean 3.5) were lower than published values. The values for total protein are most consistent with published figures, while potassium and cholesterol values 12.7 and 4.0mmol/l respectively are similar to published values. The breast milk of Nigerian mothers of Igbo ethnic extraction may not be said to be richer or poorer in biochemical content than those of mothers elsewhere. Surely the milk is good enough for the nourishment of their infants.
Key Words: Biochemical composition, Breast milk, Mothers, Nigeria
[Mary Slessor Jnl of Medicine Vol.3(1) 2003: 1-4]