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Alcohol consumption disrupts breastfeeding hormones

rolactin levels increased by 336%, as compared to when women consumed plain orange juice. Study co-author Yanina Pepino, PhD, a Monell developmental psychobiologist, explains the implications, "Under normal breastfeeding conditions, oxytocin and prolactin usually behave in tandem, such that sucking-induced breast stimulation results in transient release of both. However, following alcohol consumption we saw divergent responses in these two key hormones that control lactation."

After consuming alcohol, women took longer to eject the first drop of milk and produced less milk overall, physiological effects related to the alcohol-induced changes in oxytocin.

The current research provides a physiological basis for Mennella's previous findings concerning alcohol's effect on breastfeeding. Those studies indicated that infants ingest less milk at the breast in the hours following maternal alcohol consumption, in part due to decreased maternal milk production.

Mennella notes, "It's important for women to realize that these data should not frighten them away from breastfeeding. Unlike the situation during pregnancy, when alcohol consumed at any time is always passed onto the fetus, a lactating woman who drinks occasionally can wait a few hours after she stops drinking to breastfeed so that her infant is not exposed to the alcohol in her milk. However, she needs to be aware that the hormones underlying lactation and her milk production will be affected in the short term."

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ABOUT MONELL: The Monell Chemical Senses Center is a nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For 35 years, Monell has been the nation's leading research center focused on understanding the senses of smell, taste and chemical irritation: how they function and affect our lives, from before birth through old age. Using a multidisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the areas of: sensation and perception, neuroscience and molecul
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Source:Monell Chemical Senses Center


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