Effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and birth weight.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Breast feeding (Physiological aspects)
Herbal teas (Health aspects)
Birth size (Physiological aspects)
Birth weight (Physiological aspects)
Author: Finney-Brown, Tessa
Pub Date: 03/22/2011
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Spring, 2011 Source Volume: 23 Source Issue: 1
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 254971776
Full Text: Turkyilmaz C, Onal E, Hirfanoglu I et al. 2011. The effect of galactagogue herbal tea on breast milk production and short-term catch up of birth weight in the first week of life. JACM 17:2;1-4.

Excessive neonatal weight loss and late birth weight catch up are emerging problems in exclusively breastfed infants during the first few days of life. Postnatal weight loss and age on regaining birth weight are two frequently used clinical parameters for monitoring infant's feeding status in the first few weeks in many studies. Weight loss greater than 7% of birth weight in the infant indicates possible breastfeeding problems. Lactation failure can cause several serious problems such as reduced caloric intake for the infant, dehydration, hypernatremia and hyperbilirubinemia in the first days of life.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a herbal galactagogue used to stimulate initiation, maintenance and augmentation of maternal milk production. This Turkish study evaluated whether maternal consumption of fenugreek herbal tea had any effects on breast milk production and the recovery pattern of infant weight gain in the early postnatal period.

The placebo controlled randomised double blind study enrolled 66 mother/infant pairs. All infants enrolled into the study were term and healthy neonates. All women were supported by the same lactation consultant nurse during the study period. Maternal age, rate of primiparity, delivery mode, maternal anesthesia, gender, gestational age and birth weight of the subjects were similar in all three groups.

The mother/infant pairs were randomly assigned to three groups. Group 1 (intervention) consisted of 22 mothers, encouraged to receive at least 3 x 200 mL cups of granulated fenugreek tea daily. Group 2 (placebo) consisted of 22 mothers receiving the same amount of granulated tea (containing apple). Group 3 (control) consisted of 22 mothers without any recommendations beyond routine breastfeeding advice.

All mother/infant pairs were followed by the same nurse and pediatrician blinded to the study. Infants were weighed by the same scale every day until they reached their birth weight following a period of postnatal weight loss. The same model of electrical breast pump was used to pump both breasts consecutively for 15 minutes to measure breast milk volume on the third day postpartum.

Maximum weight loss was significantly lower in infants in group 1 compared with both the placebo and control groups (P <0.05). Infants in group 1 regained their birth weight earlier than placebo and control groups (P <0.05). The mean pumped breast milk volume of the mothers who received galactagogue tea was significantly higher than that of the placebo and control groups (P <0.05). No adverse effects were reported.

Overall the galactagogue tea supplementation resulted in a significant increase in breast milk volumes in the initial days following delivery compared with placebo. Infants of galactagogue tea supplemented mothers had lower weight loss in the first week of life and also regained their original birth weights earlier than infants in placebo and control groups. While the sample size was small, this study suggests promising results for the continued use of fenugreek in lactation.

Tessa Finney-Brown mnhaa

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