Breastfeeding is one of the most ancient human practices, and yet so little is known about why it sometimes goes wrong.
Breastfeeding provides vital nutritional and health benefits to babies, such as protection from illnesses like diabetes and sudden infant death syndrome. However, many women struggle, and after three months, less than half of US women are still exclusively breastfeeding, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The infant formula shortage, caused by bacteria contamination, highlighted the widespread challenges that breastfeeding women face, and has drawn attention to a lack of research into lactation. In response, scientists are investigating factors such as genetics, environmental exposures, and diet to find answers for future generations of mothers.
Successful nursing is a complex process that involves different hormones binding to specific receptors to drive specific reactions. Anything that interferes with these reactions “will shut down lactation, sometimes within hours”. The more we learn, the better we can support future generations of mothers and babies.
Read more here (via National Geographic, free subscription required)