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Mother's Milk for Michigan Infants: Biological Markers

Project Full Title:

Motherís Milk for Michigan Infants: Exploring the Personal, Social, Physiological, and Biological Factors of Maternal Milk Supply

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Project Description:

This project will incorporate the disciplines of Nursing and Biology. However, the project is housed explicitly within the Hope College Department of Nursing. Many mothers prematurely discontinue breastfeeding due to a perceived insufficient milk supply (PIMS). A systematic review by (Gatti, 2008) identified across studies that 35% of women reported PIMS as the primary reason for discontinuing breastfeeding. Initiating and sustaining a sufficient milk supply is influenced by personal, social, physiological and biological factors. Researchers have established social, attitudinal, behavioral, and physiological determinants of breastfeeding but few studies have examined the impact of biological determinants on human milk volume and breastfeeding duration. Biological determinants such as human milk biomarkers (Na/K and sIGA) and the Oxytocin Receptor Gene (OXTR) (Jonas et al., 2013) have been predictive of early cessation of breastfeeding. This study proposes to examine human milk biomarkers and the involvement of OXTR in the human milk biologic pathway as biological determinants for PIMS. This study will compare human milk biomarkers and maternal DNA in 100 breastfeeding mothers 1-week post birth with and without a PIMS controlling for factors that influence breastfeeding behaviors using a modified Theory of Planned Behavior. The pilot study aims to utilize maternal DNA and human milk biomarkers to measure and validate PIMS as measured by the Perception of Insufficient Milk Questionnaire. We hypothesize that maternal DNA and human milk biomarkers differ significantly between mothers with low PIM scores at 1-week post-birth. A better understanding of the biological determinants will allow clinicians to target early breastfeeding interventions to improve rates and mitigate complications associated with a mother's PIMS. Roles of the student: recruitment, consent, data collection, sample retrieval, and sample handling. This project is in collaboration with Dr. Emilie Dykstra Goris and the Goris Lab.

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