July 19, 2013

Insulin Insufficiency May Result in Milk Shortage

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breast-milkA new study published in PLoS One has shown an association between insulin disregulation and difficultly producing enough breast milk, for some mothers.

In a new study, scientists explain that insulin plays a major role in lactation success. Lactation is the secretion of milk by the mammary glands. If a mother has difficulty producing breast milk for her baby, the baby may not receive much needed nutrition early in life.

During lactation the breast becomes extremely sensitive to insulin. This is the first study to describe how this occurs. The significance lies within the genetic blueprint for making milk in the human mammary gland.

If a mother has less than optimal markers of glucose metabolism, it may take longer for her milk to be available for her baby, when breast feeding. Prior to this study, researchers believed that insulin did not play a major role in lactation.

The milk-making cells in the human breast do not need insulin to take in glucose. Apparently, experts had it wrong, before now. After this study, they believe  that insulin does a great deal more than simply facilitate the uptake of sugars.

This study revealed a number of genes expressed in human milk-making cells that are highly sensitive. An important gene is the PTPRF gen. It can facilitate the transition period between the production of colostrum in the first days after giving birth and the secretion of greater quantities of milk in mature lactation

The PTPRF gene may serve as a biomarker for insufficient milk production. This gene is known to suppress signals among cells that are usually triggered by insulin binding to its receptor on the cell surface.

Women who have dysfunctional glucose metabolism, may have over expression of the PTPRF gene. Women that express less than optimal glucose metabolism are obese, have a very heavy newborn, or may be a little more mature than other women.

Although it’s easy to look for an insulin enhancing pill to pop to encourage insulin sensitivity, many of these medications are not the best idea for pregnancy. Here are 3 suggestions that may improve insulin sensitivity without compromising the health of your baby: blueberries, dark chocolate, and exercise.

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