-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, July 5 (HealthDay News) -- Insulin plays an important
role in making breast milk, according to a new study that may help
explain why many mothers have difficulty producing enough milk to
nurse their baby.
The researchers describe how milk-producing glands become highly
sensitive to insulin during lactation and how specific genes in the
glands are switched on during lactation.
RNA sequencing technology revealed "in exquisite detail" the
blueprint for milk production in the mammary glands, said study
corresponding author Laurie Nommsen-Rivers, a scientist at
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
The findings are published online July 5 in the journal
"This new study shows a dramatic switching on of the insulin receptor and its downstream signals during the breast's transition to a biofactory that manufactures massive amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates for nourishing the newborn baby," Nommsen-Rivers said in a medical center news release.
In previous research, Nommsen-Rivers found that new mothers with
characteristics linked to poor glucose metabolism -- such as being
overweight, older or having a large baby -- take longer to begin
producing milk. This suggested that insulin was a factor in milk
"Considering that 20 percent of women between 20 and 44 are prediabetic, it's conceivable that up to 20 percent of new mothers in the United States are at risk for low milk supply due to insulin dysregulation," she added.
Nommsen-Rivers and her colleagues are planning a study to
determine if a drug used to control blood sugar in people with type
2 diabetes boosts insulin action in mammary glands and improves
"The ideal approach is a preventive one," she said. "Modifications in diet and exercise are more powerful than any drug. After this clinical trial, we hope to study those interventions."
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers
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