World-first online lactation care support system unveiled

The world's first online lactation care support system, designed to help GPs support patients who have problems breastfeeding, is being unveiled for the first time in the UK.

Developed by researchers at The University of Western Australia and being presented in the UK for the first time, LactaMap is being demonstrated at the 14th International Breastfeeding and Lactation Symposium this week (4th & 5th April).

The system is an evidence-based information platform to support doctors caring for women and infants experiencing difficulty with lactation. It is a result of over 10 years of research by a team of researchers and health professionals including doctors, paediatricians, midwives, lactation consultants, and pharmacists.

LactaMap contains more than 100 clinical practice guidelines together with related patient information documents, supporting information documents, and articles describing normal function, all supported by more than 1000 references.

LactaMap is free to use and accessible to anyone who registers around the world and aims to be a globally collective initiative towards the standarisation of lactation terminology for science and medicine.

“Unlike other medical guidelines, LactaMap is an online lactation care support system for doctors to use at the point of care, to support mothers and infants experiencing difficulty with breastfeeding,” said Melinda Boss, senior research fellow.

“Lactation completes the reproductive cycle but is often considered outside of the scope of modern medicine. Conflicting advice is one of the most common factors that impact a mother’s confidence in her ability to initiate and sustain breastfeeding.”

“Once the GP has this information base, they can then work through the platform to develop a personal care plan for the patient,” she said. “The platform contains 112 clinical practice guidelines as well as the LactaPedia glossary and 21 information sheets that can be printed out during the consultation or emailed to patients.”

In total, 10 of the world’s leading breastfeeding researchers will present their latest findings at the Symposium, which is being held at London Hilton Park Lane. The event’s aims to bring together internationally renowned lactation experts to dive deeper into the unexplored territory of breastfeeding and neonatal care.

Other research being presented includes clues why breastfed babies are less likely to become obese in later life.  Sharing results from her 5-year project Prof Donna Geddes, director of the Human Lactation Research Group at the University of Western Australia who is discussing the presence of appetite-controlling hormones in breastmilk known as leptin and adiponectin.

Dr María Carmen Collado of the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology-Spanish National Research Council, Spain, is also confirming her recent discovery that yeast is present in breastmilk. She said: "Our research demonstrates the presence of yeasts and other fungi in breast milk in healthy mothers, supporting the hypothesis that breast milk is an important source of microorganisms to the growing infant,"

Dr Janet Berrington, consultant in neonatal paediatrics and honorary senior clinical lecturer at Newcastle University is providing a sneak preview of the cutting-edge technology being cited as a model ‘unique to the UK’. It is being used to research necrotising enterocolitis and late onset sepsis. She will also talk about the ‘mini-gut’ her team has been able to develop from preterm gut stem cells, which offers unique insights into the way in which the infant gut develops and is allowing new research angles into gut health and disease.

She said: “For the first time we now have a real model of very early gestation human gut tissue that can be used in our research, and which will hopefully allow a better understanding of the drivers of gut health and disease in preterm infants.”

Another highlight comes from Assoc Prof Daniel Munblit of Sechenov University, Moscow, Russia who is presenting updated findings about the sheer complexities of breastmilk to protect against allergies. It is full of different components which have synergistic and/or antagonistic effects to each other.

“Dozens of cytokines, as well as the microbiome, fatty acids and the oligosaccharides, are all involved,” he said “It is these intricate interactions, which we are getting closer to uncovering, that play a part in breastmilk’s ability to protect an infant against allergies.”


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