Abstract # 6202 Event # 158:

Scheduled for Friday, June 19, 2015 04:00 PM-04:15 PM: (Cascade E) Oral Presentation


M. L. Power
Nutrition Laboratory, Conservation Ecology Center, National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, DC 20013, USA
     Great ape and human neonates are similar in many aspects of growth. A significant difference is the enhanced brain growth of human infants. Many scientists have proposed that human milk must have evolved a different composition to support brain growth. Brain growth is more energy/fat intensive and other lean body mass (LBM)is more protein intensive. Four gorillas and three orangutans at National Zoo and Zoo Atlanta have been trained to allow manual expression of breast milk, allowing longitudinal samples to be collected from soon after birth through several years of infancy. Based on 96 samples of lowland gorilla milk (Gorilla gorilla) and 28 samples of orangutan milk (Pongo abelii and P. pygmaeus), assayed at the Nutrition Laboratory of the National Zoo, great ape milk is lower in fat than human milk (gorilla milk fat = 2.5±0.1%; orangutan = 2.2±0.2%; human milk from literature = 3.7±0.1%; p<.05). Protein and sugar concentrations of gorilla, orangutan and human milks do not differ. Thus, energy density of great ape milk is lower than human milk (0.57±0.01 kcal/g and 0.56±0.01 kcal/g versus 0.67±0.01 kcal/g; p<.05), and human infants receive a higher proportion of milk energy from fat. Gorilla milk contains 21.4±0.4 mg of protein/kcal while human milk contains 16.2±0.4 mg of protein/kcal, consistent with an emphasis on brain growth as opposed to other LBM growth in human neonates.