Poor metabolic health markers, according to a recent UC study, are associated to reduced breast milk supply.
The findings were reported in the journal Breastfeeding Medicine. “We wanted to see if we could figure out what makes these moms unique. So we conducted a case-control study to determine why, despite their best efforts to follow all breastfeeding guidelines, they were not producing enough milk “Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and Ruth Rosevear Endowed Chair of Maternal and Child Nutrition in the University of California College of Allied Health Sciences, agrees. “The prevalent idea is that if you strive hard enough, your body will be able to achieve this.”
Nommsen-Rivers and her colleagues examined data from a randomised controlled study including mothers assessed for poor milk production that ran from February 2015 to June 2016. Mothers aged 20 or older and one to eight weeks postpartum with a healthy child delivered at 37 weeks or later were eligible. To determine milk production, participants completed at-home newborn test-weighing.
“We’ve found signs in these huge epidemiologic studies of things connected to insulin resistance, so we looked at the entire metabolic panel,” she explains. “We looked at everything that contributes to your risk of metabolic syndrome: blood pressure, plasma lipids, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and insulin sensitivity.”
All of these metrics were considerably poorer in women with unexplained chronic low milk production than in the control group.”
According to Nommsen-Rivers, substantial epidemiologic studies over the last decade or two have consistently demonstrated that women with a higher BMI had a shorter breastfeeding duration. According to Nommsen-Rivers, this prompted several speculations, including lesser motivation or effort, but these views are primarily founded in weight stigma. She claims that this is an understudied subject, despite the fact that greater BMI is related with poor metabolic health.
“This is the first research where we confirmed their continuous poor milk supply,” explains Nommsen-Rivers.
“This isn’t merely the result of a mother thinking, ‘Oh, I didn’t have enough milk, so I fed my kid formula.’ Our findings clearly suggest that their decreased milk production has a physiological basis. It wasn’t because these ladies didn’t strive hard enough.”
According to Nommsen-Rivers, this study brings researchers one step closer to developing clinical criteria for screening pregnant women to determine what the metabolic health picture looks like in women who succeed with exclusive breastfeeding versus those who are unable to produce sufficient breast milk despite following best practises for breastfeeding management.
“This was a terribly understudied region,” she explains. “I pursued a PhD because I believed the evidence we utilised to give breastfeeding management was woefully inadequate. I wanted to contribute to studies that will assist improve the evidence foundation for better breastfeeding management.”