MONDAY, Jan. 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Mothers with very low breast milk production have significantly higher inflammatory biomarkers and obesity and lower long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) in milk, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Rachel E. Walker, Ph.D., from the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and colleagues analyzed data and specimens from a low milk supply study and an exclusively breastfeeding control group, with milk production measured by a 24-hour test weighting at two to 10 weeks postpartum. Overall, 23 and 20 women with very low or moderate milk production, respectively, were compared to 18 controls (<300 and ≥300 mL/day, respectively, versus ≥699 mL/day).

The researchers found that very low cases, compared with moderate milk production cases and controls, had a higher prevalence of elevated serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (>5 mg/L: 57, 15, and 22 percent, respectively), detectable milk tumor necrosis factor-α (67, 32, and 33 percent, respectively), and obesity (78, 40, and 22 percent, respectively). Lower mean LCFAs in milk were seen for very low cases versus moderate milk production cases and controls (60 ± 3 percent versus 65 ± 4 and 66 ± 5 percent, respectively). In controls, but not in the moderate or very low milk production cases, milk and serum LCFAs were strongly correlated.

“Our data support the hypothesis that inflammation in lactating mothers leads to disrupted mammary transfer of fatty acids from circulation to the mammary gland and low milk volume,” the authors write.

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