Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Robin M. Bernstein

Second Advisor

Darna Dufour

Third Advisor

Joanna Lambert

Abstract

Infants in The Gambia often experience intense growth faltering within the first two years of life, which is strongly related to season of birth. The combined stress of caloric deprivation and intense physical labor during the wet season is energetically taxing on mothers and has been hypothesized to contribute to the differential individual short- and long-term outcomes dependent on season of birth. This study aims to assess different environmental, socioeconomic, and anthropometric variables associated with breast milk macronutrient composition and how these variables then affect infant growth outcomes. Results from this study demonstrate that breast milk is relatively buffered from changes in environment, socioeconomic factors, and maternal anthropometrics. While population breast milk composition is relatively buffered from many of the variables examined in this study, there is significant inter-individual variation in macronutrients that may contribute to infant growth outcomes which are themselves dependent on milk macronutrient composition.

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