Blood flow characteristics of the human lactating breast.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Lactation (Physiological aspects)
Breast (Physiological aspects)
Blood flow (Measurement)
Breast feeding
Author: Robertson, Colleen
Pub Date: 11/01/2012
Publication: Name: Breastfeeding Review Publisher: Australian Breastfeeding Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 Australian Breastfeeding Association ISSN: 0729-2759
Issue: Date: Nov, 2012 Source Volume: 20 Source Issue: 3
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 310739992
Full Text: Blood flow characteristics of the human lactating breast Geddes DT, Aljazaf KM, Kent JC, Prime DK, Spatz DL, Garbin CP, Lai CT, Hartmann PE 2012, J Hum Lact 28(2): 145-52.

Increased blood flow to the lactating breast is required as it provides the fluids and substrates for milk production. However, there have been no studies in humans to determine whether mammary blood flow (MBF) characteristics, such as blood flow volume, are related to levels of milk production.

In this Australian study, MBF was measured in the internal mammary artery (IMA) and lateral thoracic artery (LTA) of 55 lactating women (6-76 weeks lactation), using colour Doppler flow imaging by ultrasound Milk production from each breast over a 24-hour period was also measured using the test-weigh approach.

The researchers found that 70% of blood flow was contributed by the IMA. MBF was consistent between the left and right breast of individual women, but varied greatly between women. No relationship between MBF and either milk production or stage of lactation was found. However, three women in the study had little to no milk production from the right breast (one due to hypoplasia and the other two due to healed nipple piercings). These women had markedly reduced MBF in the breast producing little to no milk, suggesting that milk production may regulate local MBF. More research is needed to understand the physiology of blood flow relating to milk production. CMR

CMR Colleen Robertson BA, BSc (Hons), PhD, Cert IV Breastfeeding Education (Community)
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