Data & Sample Analyses

We collaborate with researchers throughout UC San Diego as well as other universities and hospitals to analyze human milk samples and clinical data from our biorepository. Our recent and ongoing projects with Mommy’s Milk samples include:  

Analysis of Lead in Human Milk Samples After Maternal Report of Elevated Infant Blood Lead Levels
We determined the concentration of lead in human milk samples from lactating parents with normal blood lead levels whose children showed signs of lead exposure via a blood screen at a pediatric medical office between 12 months and 24 months of age. This project was completed in collaboration with Dr. Euhna Hoh at San Diego State University (Hoh Laboratory).

Dr. Euhna Hoh
Dr. Hoh’s Lab

Bioactive Lipids in Human Milk
In collaboration with Dr. Mohit Jain at UC San Diego, (Mohit Jain, MD, Ph.D. – Jain Laboratory) we are measuring bioactive lipids in human milk, which may enhance or prevent the development of early childhood disease, including asthma and allergies.

Dr. Mohit Jain

Cannabinoids in Human Milk
In collaboration with the lab of Dr. Brookie Best at the University of California, San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (https://pharmacy.ucsd.edu/faculty/best), we are measuring the quantity of cannabinoids (∆9-THC, 11-OH-THC, CBD, and CBN) in human milk samples provided by lactating parents who report recent marijuana use. In addition, we are evaluating child growth through medical record review, and child neurodevelopment through maternal report questionnaires and face-to-face testing.

Related Publications:
Kerri A. Bertrand, Nathan J. Hanan, Gordon Honerkamp-Smith, Brookie M. Best, Christina D. Chambers; Marijuana Use by Breastfeeding Mothers and Cannabinoid Concentrations in Breast Milk. Pediatrics September 2018; 142 (3): e20181076. 10.1542/peds.2018-1076
https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/3/e20181076

Characterization of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Human Milk
In collaboration with Dr. Lars Bode of the Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (MoMi Core) at UC San Diego (http://www.bodelab.com/; https://medschool.ucsd.edu/research/coe/momicore/about/Pages/default.aspx) and The Antigen Discovery Institute (ADI; https://antigendiscovery.com/), human milk samples were analyzed to establish the presence of SARS-CoV-2-specific IgA and IgG and to characterize the specific antigenic regions of SARS-CoV-2 proteins that were reactive with antibodies in human milk from lactating parents with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Dr. David Camerini
Dr. Joe Campo

Child Developmental Risk and The Chemistry of Human Milk
In collaboration with Dr. Robert Naviaux of the UC San Diego Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disease Center (https://naviauxlab.ucsd.edu/), we evaluated if the chemistry and xenobiotic profile of human milk differs according to the developmental risk status of the chest/breastfed child by utilizing the results from the Ages and Stages Questionnaire 2, which is a maternal report questionnaire that screens the development of children in five different domains.  

Li K, Bertrand K, Naviaux JC, Monk JM, Wells A, Wang L, Lingampelly SS, Naviaux RK, Chambers C. Metabolomic and exposomic biomarkers of risk of future neurodevelopmental delay in human milk. Pediatr Res. 2022 Sep 15. doi: 10.1038/s41390-022-02283-6. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36109618.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36109618/

Dr. Robert Naviaux

Concentration of Etanercept in Human Milk
In collaboration with Dr. Brookie Best at the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (https://pharmacy.ucsd.edu/faculty/best), we determined the concentration of etanercept in human milk samples from lactating parents prescribed this medication during chest/breastfeeding. In addition, we are evaluating child growth through medical record review and child neurodevelopment through maternal report questionnaires.

Concentration of Methotrexate in Human Milk
We determined the concentration of methotrexate in human milk samples from lactating parents who were prescribed this medication while chest/breastfeeding. This project was completed in collaboration with Dr. Shinya Ito at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (https://www.sickkids.ca/en/staff/i/shinya-ito/).

Dr. Shinya Ito

Epigenetics in Longitudinal Breast Milk, Maternal Mental Health, and Child Growth
In collaboration with Dr. Amy Non in UC San Diego’s Anthropology Department (Amy Non), we studied associations between maternal perceived stress, depression, and anxiety on milk cortisol, miRNA expression levels, and infant growth across the postnatal period.

Dr. Amy Non

Evaluation for SARS-CoV-2 in Human Milk from Infected Lactating Women
In collaboration with Dr. Lars Bode of the Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (MoMi Core) at UC San Diego (http://www.bodelab.com/; https://medschool.ucsd.edu/research/coe/momicore/about/Pages/default.aspx) and Dr. Grace Aldrovandi, Dr. Nicole Tobin, and Dr. Paul Krogstad at the UC Los Angeles (UCLA), human milk samples were examined for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, using RT-PCR and/ or viral culture. Milk samples that contained viral RNA were examined for the presence of subgenomic coronavirus RNA, which is a marker of infectivity.

Related Publications:
Chambers C, Krogstad P, Bertrand K, Contreras D, Tobin NH, Bode L, Aldovandi G. Evaluation for SARS-CoV-2 in Breast Milk from 18 Infected Women. JAMA. 2020 Oct 6;324(13):1347-1348. PMID: 32822495.
https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2769825
Krogstad P, Contreras D, Ng H, Tobin N, Chambers CD, Bertrand K, Bode L, Aldrovandi G. No Evidence of Infectious SARS-CoV-2 in Human Milk: Analysis of a Cohort of 110 Lactating Women. medRxiv [Preprint]. 2021 Apr 7:2021.04.05.21254897. doi: 10.1101/2021.04.05.21254897. Update in: Pediatr Res. 2022 Jan 19;: PMID: 33851178; PMCID: PMC8043475.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33851178/

Dr. Paul Krogstad

The Heterogeneity of Maternal Milk Antibacterial Immunoglobulin A Response
We evaluated the heterogeneity of human milk from lactating parents with multiple pregnancies by characterizing potential shifts in the maternal milk IgA repertoire over the course of multiple pregnancies. This project is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. Chelsea Johnson and Dr. Timothy Hand of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (Timothy W. Hand, PhD | Department of Pediatrics | University of Pittsburgh; Chelseá B. Johnson, MD | Department of Pediatrics | University of Pittsburgh).

Dr. Timothy Hand
Dr. Chelsea Johnson

Human Milk Oligosaccharides
We are measuring the quantity of human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) in human milk samples in collaboration with Dr. Lars Bode of the Mother-Milk-Infant Center of Research Excellence (MoMi Core) at UC San Diego (http://www.bodelab.com/; https://medschool.ucsd.edu/research/coe/momicore/about/Pages/default.aspx). HMOs are complex sugars that are found in the milk of most mammals and are associated with both maternal and infant health outcomes. We are evaluating which maternal and infant characteristics are associated with the various HMOs that we measure in our sample.

Dr. Lars Bode

Macronutrient Profiling in Human Milk
We are measuring the quantity of macronutrients in human milk samples in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Jae Kim (https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/bio/k/jae-kim) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Some of the macronutrients that we are measuring include carbohydrates, fat, and protein (ng/mL). We are also measuring the total caloric count of the human milk samples being analyzed. Using this data, we are able to evaluate what maternal and infant characteristics may influence the macronutrients of human milk.

Maternal and Child Outcomes Reported by Breastfeeding Women Following Messenger RNA COVID-19 Vaccination

We sought to evaluate a cohort of vaccinated breastfeeding women for vaccine-related symptoms and their breastfed children for any nonserious and serious adverse events.

Related Publications:
Bertrand K, Honerkamp-Smith G, Chambers CD. Maternal and Child Outcomes Reported by Breastfeeding Women Following Messenger RNA COVID-19 Vaccination. Breastfeed Med. 2021 Sep;16(9):697-701. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2021.0169. Epub 2021 Aug 31. PMID: 34492204; PMCID: PMC8563461.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34492204/

Microbiome of Human Milk
We are classifying the microbiome of human milk in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Robin Knight of the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation. (https://knightlab.ucsd.edu/). We are profiling the human milk samples to see which bacteria are present and the most abundant in the human milk microbiome. In addition, we are evaluating what intrinsic and extrinsic factors of lactating individuals may influence and potentially change the human milk microbiome.

The Presence of Non-Human Proteins in Human Milk
In collaboration with Dr. Katherine Luskin of Scripps Clinic, we explored the presence of non-human proteins in milk by mass spectrometry. We evaluated 44 non-human proteins encompassing 26 plant and animal species in human milk samples from lactating parents of both pre-term and term infants. The aim of this research was to better inform how specific components in breast milk can impact the development of or protection from allergies.

Related Publications:
Kathleen Luskin, Sydney Leibel, Majid Ghassemian, Christina Chambers, Jessica Kitsen, Diba Mortazavi, Kerri Bertrand, Bob Geng, Analysis of Non-Human Proteins/Peptides in Human Breast Milk by Mass Spectrometry, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 145, Issue 2, Supplement, 2020, Page AB163, ISSN 0091-6749, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2019.12.432.

Dr. Katherine Luskin

Genotoxicants and the DNA Adductome of the Human Breast
In collaboration with Dr. Robert Turesky at the University of Minnesota (Turesky Lab), we examined human milk from lactating parents who were either omnivores or vegetarians to identify if any chemicals found in cooked meats, which are potential mammary carcinogens, are present in the milk samples.

Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic (PBPK) Modeling of Cannabidiol (CBD) in Human Milk
In collaboration with Dr. Cindy H.T. Yeung at the University of Waterloo (Cindy Yeung | Pharmacokinetics Research Group | University of Waterloo (uwaterloo.ca), data previously collected from lactating parents who used cannabis while breastfeeding will be used to build a physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model? (need to see protocol) of cannabidiol (CBD) for pediatric scaling in predicting CBD exposure to infants through human milk.

Plg-RKT in Human Milk
In collaboration with Dr. Lindsey Miles at Scripps Research (The Miles Laboratory) and Dr. Robert Parmer at the UC San Diego School of Medicine (Robert Parmer Research-UC San Diego Division of Nephrology), we developed an assay to evaluate whether Plg-RKT protein was detectable in membrane fractions from frozen milk samples. Plg-RKT protein may be involved in milk production, which could help us answer questions about lactating parents with milk supply challenges. Information from this study could potentially help lactating parents improve low milk supply.

Dr. Lindsey Miles

Vedolizumab and IgA Levels in Human Milk
We are examining if the drug vedolizumab (Entyvio®), a prescription medication for the treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, interferes with the migration of antibody secreting cells (ASCs) to the mammary gland, thereby decreasing the amount of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody levels in human milk. We are conducting this research in collaboration with Dr. Jesus Rivera-Nieves at the UC San Diego Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology (https://medschool.ucsd.edu/som/medicine/divisions/gastro/research/labs/Pages/Rivera-Lab-.aspx).

Dr. Jesus Rivera

Untargeted Mass Spectrometry of Human Milk
We are identifying the metabolites present in human milk using an untargeted Mass Spectrometry approach in collaboration with Dr. Pieter Dorrestein and the UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (https://dorresteinlab.ucsd.edu/). We are profiling human milk samples to see which metabolites are present and the most abundant in human milk. In addition, we are evaluating what maternal and infant characteristics are associated with the metabolites identified and how maternal report of medication and substance exposures compares to the laboratory results.

Related Publications:
Thomas, S, Gauglitz, JM, Tripathi, A, et al. An untargeted metabolomics analysis of exogenous chemicals in human milk and transfer to the infant. Clin Transl Sci. 2022; 00: 1- 7. doi:10.1111/cts.13393