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Exercise and the Composition of Breast Milk

In this project we are examining the influence of exercise and diet on the composition of breast milk. Understanding this relationship is important because it may show a link between exercise and variation in the amount of growth factors and endocannabinoids (which promote appetite) in breast milk.  These data will ultimately inform decisions made by mothers regarding exercise and diet while breastfeeding to promote healthy brain growth and cognitive development of their children.

To collect these data, we have breastfeeding mothers who actively exercise volunteer to come into our lab and run on our treadmill for 30 minutes.  We take three milk samples: one prior to exercise (while completely voiding the breasts of milk), one immediately following exercise (while completely voiding the breasts of milk) and a third following a 30 minute period of rest.  Each subject comes in for approximately two hours.  The milk samples are immediately frozen and sent off to a lab to analyze the amount of certain compounds thought to be linked to brain growth.  The data are then compared to a control sample of women who are also healthy, but do not actively exercise.  All milk not used for samples can be stored in our refrigerator for you so that you may take it home.