A recently published study in the Journal of Nutrition has uncovered a link between obesity, inflammation, and milk production in breastfeeding mothers. Researchers from Penn State University, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and the University of Cincinnati recruited a total of 61 mothers, 20 with moderate milk production, 18 exclusively breastfeeding, and 23 with very little milk production despite their best efforts.
The study found that the mothers with very little milk had significantly higher rates of obesity and markers of systemic inflammation. When examining the fatty acids in the blood and milk of the mothers, the researchers discovered that the control group had a strong correlation between the two. In the groups with moderate and very low milk production, however, that link was almost gone. This suggests that inflammation disrupts the absorption of fatty acids from the blood into body tissues, which are necessary for milk production.
The findings of this study are important as breastfeeding has numerous benefits for both mothers and babies. It is recommended that babies be exclusively breastfed for their first six months, but only 25% of mothers are able to do so. Understanding the potential issues that can arise in mothers with high weight status and inflammation can lead to interventions or treatments that help more mothers to breastfeed successfully.