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Is it true that beer stimulates lactation if I’m nursing a baby?

One of the weirdest old wives’ tales holds that drinking beer can stimulate lactation in nursing mothers. It may sound incredible to modern ears, but faith in the brewer’s contribution to breast-feeding was once so widespread that in 1895 Anheuser-Busch produced Malt-Nutrine, a beer that physicians would prescribe as a tonic for breast-feeding women.

New research, however, debunks the beer-benefits myth and demonstrates the detriments of alcohol consumption while nursing. Upon testing lactating women for prolactin and oxytocin levels, the two key hormones that influence lactation performance in breast-feeding mothers, University of Pennsylvania researchers discovered that using alcohol (of any kind) disrupted the hormonal balance required for the optimum yield of breast milk—thus reducing  the quality and quantity available to the nursing infant. What’s more, other studies have established that when a breast-feeding mother consumes alcohol, it shows up in her milk. Like blood levels of alcohol, milk levels of alcohol eventually dissipate. Still, infants who consume even small amounts of alcohol may suffer problems with motor development, including a weak suckling reflex, which, along with the reduced yield of breast milk, may prevent proper weight gain.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.