Prediabetes may affect breast milk supply

July 18, 2013

If women are prediabetic when giving birth, they may find it difficult to make enough breast milk to feed their newborns, according to new research from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of California, Davis. The findings show that insulin dysregulation can negatively impact milk supply.

 

If women are prediabetic when giving birth, they may find it difficult to make enough breast milk to feed their newborns, according to new research from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of California, Davis. The findings show that insulin dysregulation can negatively impact milk supply.

Building on a previous study, scientists suggest that insulin affects lactation success. The study authors point out theirs is the first study to explain how in the process of lactation the human mammary gland becomes extremely sensitive to insulin.

The latest study identified genes expressed in human milk-making cells that tend to be highly sensitive. During the period between the production of colostrum in the first days after giving birth and the secretion of greater volume of milk in mature lactation, several genes “switch on and off,” scientists noted.

The *PTPRF (Protein tyrosine phosphatase, receptor type, F) gene may be a biomarker for inadequate milk production. The gene stifles signals related to cells that are often triggered by insulin binding to its receptor on the cell surface.

The authors’ findings may help investigators in the future, when studying physical reasons for women having problems breastfeeding.

Upon this latest discovery, study authors plan to pursue a phase I/II clinical trial assessing a medication that is given to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes. The primary outcome will be to analyze whether this boosts insulin activity in the mammary gland, enabling prediabetic women to generate adequate breast milk.

 

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