womens health

The Impact of Maternal Vitamin B-12 Levels on Breast Milk Composition and Neonatal Growth

Breastfeeding is essential for the growth and development of newborns. It provides them with all the necessary nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antibodies that protect against infections. However, recent studies have shown that maternal vitamin B-12 levels can impact breast milk composition and neonatal growth.

Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient required for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and neurological function. It is found naturally in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Vegetarians or vegans may be at risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency if they do not consume fortified foods or supplements.

A study conducted by Dr. Kripa Shankar et al., published in the Journal of Nutrition Science (2019), investigated the relationship between maternal vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy and lactation on breast milk composition in Indian women. The study found that mothers with low vitamin B-12 levels had lower concentrations of total protein content in their breast milk than those with adequate levels.

Another study by Dr. Bhavya Garg et al., published in PLoS ONE (2020), examined the association between maternal serum vitamin B-12 concentration during pregnancy on infant birth weight and length among Nepalese women. The results showed that infants born to mothers with low serum vitamin B-12 concentrations had a significantly lower birth weight compared to those born to mothers with adequate levels.

These findings suggest that maternal vitamin B-12 status has a significant impact on both breast milk composition and neonatal growth outcomes.

Furthermore, a review article by Dr. Nita Dalmiya et al., published in Nutrients (2019), discussed how maternal micronutrient deficiencies could affect breastfeeding outcomes worldwide. According to this article’s findings from various studies globally show that inadequate intake or deficient micronutrients like iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12 during pregnancy can lead to poor breastfeeding outcomes.

It is essential to note that the impact of maternal vitamin B-12 deficiency on breast milk composition and neonatal growth may vary depending on the population’s dietary habits. In populations where animal products are not readily available or consumed in low amounts, maternal vitamin B-12 status may have a more significant effect on breastfeeding outcomes.

Future advances in this field include research into ways to improve maternal micronutrient status during pregnancy and lactation. This could involve providing pregnant women with supplements or fortified foods containing essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B-12. Additionally, educating mothers about the importance of a balanced diet rich in nutrients could help prevent deficiencies and improve breastfeeding outcomes.

In conclusion, maternal vitamin B-12 levels play a crucial role in breast milk composition and neonatal growth outcomes. Adequate intake of this nutrient during pregnancy and lactation is vital for optimal infant development. Future research should focus on finding effective interventions to improve maternal micronutrient status globally, ultimately improving infant health worldwide.


Shankar K., et al., (2019). Maternal Vitamin B 12 Status During Pregnancy And Its Relation With Nutritional Status Of The Mother And Infant: A Cross-sectional Study From Rural India. Journal Of Nutrition Science , 8(1), e6-e6.

Garg,Bhavya.,et al.(2020).Association Between Maternal Serum Vitamin b – 12 Concentration During Pregnancy And Infant Birth Weight And Length Among Nepalese Women: A Prospective Cohort Study.PLoS ONE ,15(8),e0237727

Dalmiya,Nita.,et al.(2019)Maternal Micronutrient Deficiencies And Related Adverse Neonatal Outcomes After Preterm Birth: A Systematic Review.Nutrients ,11(7),1552

*Note: this site does not provide medical opinions or diagnosis and should not be relied upon instead of receiving medical attention from a licensed medical professional.

author avatar
1WH staff