• Breast feeding;
  • breast milk;
  • cytokines;
  • mastitis;
  • stress

Problem  Inflammatory breast diseases during lactation are major reasons for early weaning.

Method of study  A prospective cohort study was performed to examine the association between stress and inflammatory breast diseases. Psychometric data, cytokine levels in breast milk and blood samples were analysed postpartum (T1). Psychometric data and course of breast feeding were evaluated twelve weeks later (T2). Patients were divided into case- and control-groups (according to the presence of breast diseases).

Results  Mothers of the case group (= 23) were significantly older and showed significantly increased stress levels between T1 and T2 compared with the control group (= 43). Leucocytes in the postpartum blood count were significantly decreased in the case group. There were no significant differences between groups in the concentrations of Th-1- and Th-2-cytokines in breast milk postpartum.

Conclusion  Higher maternal age, postpartum increase in stress perception and low number of leucocytes are associated with a higher incidence of inflammatory breast diseases. Further studies must examine the causality of this effect.