Breastmilk Composition

This is pretty much a list of links right now. I always have to search a bit when someone asks a question on this subject, so I’m putting everything in one place to make it easier to find. If I get some time, I hope to compile a lot of this info into one document.



PDF Appendix G: The Composition of Human Milk includes numbers for early milk and mature milk from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Infant Feeding Guidelines for Health Workers (note: this is a large PDF file)

Human Milk and Lactation: Macronutrient Composition of Human Milk

whole cow’s milk
2% cow’s milk
43 mg/cup
33 mg/cup
18 mg/cup
11.2 g/cup
8 g/cup
5 g/cup

According to “Breastfeeding and Human Lactation” (Riordan and Auerbach, 1999), the protein content of mature human milk from well-nourished mothers is about 0.8-0.9 grams of protein per deciliter. Another source says that in the second year of life, 500 ml of breastmilk provides 38% of baby’s protein requirements (UNICEF/Wellstart: Promoting Breastfeeding in Health Facilities: A short course for Administrators and Policy Makers; WHO/CDR 93.4).  

Immune Factors

see Immune factors in human milk

General info and comparisons

Constituents of human milk by Ann Prentice, from Food and Nutrition Bulletin (The United Nations University Press)1996 December; 17(4)

Human Milk and Lactation by Carol L Wagner, MD

Comparison of breastmilk & formula from

Goat – Cow – Human Milk Comparison from the American Dairy Goat Association

References and further reading

Hamosh M. Breastfeeding: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mother’s Milk. Medscape Women’s Health eJournal 1996;1(5).

The United Nations University Press Food and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 17, Number 4, December 1996.

Controlling your cholesterol from

Reference list from my Extended Breastfeeding Fact Sheet

Hamosh M, Dewey, Garza C, et al: Nutrition During Lactation. Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1991, pp. 133-140. This book is available free from the HRSA Information Center.

Riordan, J. and Auerbach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation, 2nd ed. Boston and London: Jones and Bartlett, 1999.

Lawrence, R. Breastfeeding : A Guide for the Medical Profession, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 1994.

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