Infant Self-Regulation of Breast Milk Intake


(K. G. D.) Department of Nutrition University of California Davis, CA 95616, USA


ABSTRACT. In an experimental study to determine whether augmentation of maternal milk supply affects infant intake, 18 mothers of exclusively breast-fed infants stimulated milk supply by daily expression of extra milk for 2 weeks. Infant milk intake was recorded before, during and after this expression phase. All but 4 mothers increased milk production by >73 g/day over baseline, with an average increase of 124 g/day. On the average, the 14 infants of mothers who increased milk production took in significantly more milk immediately following the expression phase (849 vs. 732 g/day), but about half of them returned to near baseline levels of milk intake after 1-2 weeks. Net change in infant intake at the end of the study was positively correlated with infant weight-for-length (r=0.59) and age (r=0.58), and was unrelated to baseline milk intake (r=-0.06). Therefore, the wide range in breast milk volume in well-nourished populations is due more to variation in infant “demand” than to inadequacy of milk production.