Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Effects of exclusive formula or breast milk feeding on oxidative stress in healthy preterm infants
  1. O Korchazhkina1,
  2. E Jones2,
  3. M Czauderna3,
  4. S A Spencer1
  1. 1Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  2. 2Neonatal Unit, University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
  3. 3The Kielanowski Institute of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jablonna, Poland
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr S A Spencer
    Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Keele, Thornburrow Drive, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 7QB, UK; andy.spencer{at}


Background: Compared to formula, breast milk is considered to have superior antioxidant properties and consequently may reduce the occurrence of a number of diseases of prematurity associated with oxidative stress.

Aims: To test whether the antioxidant properties of breast milk in healthy premature infants are different to those of formula milk by comparing vitamin E levels in milk and determining the excretion of malondialdehyde (MDA) in urine.

Methods: Vitamin E was measured in the breast milk of 20 mothers who had given birth prematurely. Urinary MDA was measured in 10 exclusively breast milk fed and 10 exclusively formula fed healthy preterm infants receiving no vitamin supplements. MDA was measured after derivatisation with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine and consecutive HPLC with UV detection.

Results: Urinary MDA concentrations were consistently very low (0.074±0.033 μM/mM Cr and 0.078±0.026 μM/mM Cr in breast and formula fed infants respectively) and not significantly different between healthy breast milk and formula fed infants. Both breast and formula milk contained satisfactory levels (0.3–3.0 mg/100 ml) of vitamin E.

Conclusion: Antioxidant properties of both breast milk and formulae are sufficient to prevent significant lipid peroxidation in healthy premature infants.

  • MDA, malondialdehyde
  • TBARS, 2-thiobarbituric acid
  • VLBW, very low birth weight
  • antioxidant
  • breast milk
  • malondialdehyde
  • preterm
  • vitamin E

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 20 January 2006

  • Funding: this study was supported by funds of the North Staffordshire Medical Institute, the Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine, and the Royal Society

  • Competing interests: none