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Breast feeding of children older than one year is widely discussed in pediatric circles. Our aim was to study the concentrations of lactoferrin (LF) and its saturation with iron and copper in breast milk of women residing in Saint-Petersburg. Fifteen women that kept lactating for 2 years voluntarily provided samples of breast milk (over 7000 samples) in which LF was assayed. LF concentration was measured in 384 samples (100 ml) of breast milk and, upon the protein’s isolation, its saturation with iron and copper were established. Saturation of LF with iron and copper varied from 6 to 9% and from 2 to 3%, respectively. During the first week of lactation LF content in colostrum was 2-8 mg/ml, after which its concentration decreased gradually to 0,5-2,0 mg/ml by the end the 12th month. During the next 12 months it was 0,5-1,0 mg/ml. Only 24 samples were obtained from women lactating over 2 years, the longest term being 5 years. LF content in those samples was 2-5 mg/ml, which resembled colostrum. Considering average amounts of breast milk fed by lactating women to their children, a rough estimate shows that a child receives over 50 mg LF daily, which is close to curative doses of LF used in treatment of patients with tumors. Our results call in question the viewpoint, widely accepted by pediatricians of St.-Petersburg, i.e. that after the first year of lactation breast milk contains no valuable components.

V A Kostevich

Research Institute of Experimental Medicine, NW Branch of RAMS

St.-Petersburg, Russia

A V Sokolov

Research Institute of Experimental Medicine, NW Branch of RAMS

St.-Petersburg, Russia

E T Zakharova

Research Institute of Experimental Medicine, NW Branch of RAMS

St.-Petersburg, Russia

V B Vasilyev

Research Institute of Experimental Medicine, NW Branch of RAMS

St.-Petersburg, Russia

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