The Lactating Breast: An Overview from Down Under

Peter E. Hartmann
Breastfeeding Medicine. 2007, 2(1): 3-9.


My research into the physiology of lactation began at the University of Sydney in the early 1960s with funding from the Australian Dairy Industry. In 1972 I moved to The University of Western Australia to teach medical students and initiated a research program in human lactation. Coincidentally this was a very significant time for human lactation because 1972 was the nadir for breastfeeding in many Western countries, including Australia. In Western Australia the proportion of women choosing to breastfeed increased from <50% to the current rate of 95%. Because the invasive conventional techniques used to study lactation in laboratory and domestic animals could not be applied to investigation of the regulation of milk synthesis in lactating women, it was necessary to develop new approaches to the study of mammary gland metabolism in women. These methods have included measuring breast volume using a computerized breast measurement system, measuring milk macro- and micro-components on small volumes of breast milk, bioluminescent metabolomic assays, and ultrasound analysis of breast function. Currently, my research is directed toward understanding the control of synthesis, secretion, and removal of milk in women with the aim of developing clinical protocols for the assessment of the normal and abnormal function of the lactating breast. Forrás