Palm wine consumption can’t increase breast milk production –Experts
Health experts have faulted the claim that drinking palm wine by lactating mothers could help increase breast milk production, noting that there is no scientific study to support the assumption in humans.
The experts, a professor of Paediatric Nutrition, Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Calabar, Emmanuel Ekanem and a former head of Nutrition Services with the Ondo State Government, James Oloyede, said the claim that drinking palm would enhance the flow of breastmilk in a lactating mother is spurious.
According to the health experts, there is no study done on humans to back this common cultural practice.
Recall that a 2019 study performed by some Nigerian researchers titled, ‘Effect of Palm Wine Administration on the Histology of the Mammary Glands of Postpartum Female Albino Wistar Rats’ and published in ResearchGate, a European commercial social networking site for scientists and researchers, suggest that fresh palm wine increased the quantity of milk produced by some lactating laboratory rats.
One of the researchers and a lecturer at the Cross River State University, James Ikpa speaking on the result of the 2019 research with PUNCH HealthWise, said, “This study has shown that moderate intake of fresh palm wine promoted breast milk production and also the quality of the breast milk in the rats used for the research.”
He, however, clarified that the research is purely scientific, not clinical.
He said, “We have tested it on only rats so far hence the conclusion you see there but what is supposed to be obtainable is that we go to higher animals.”
Reacting to this research, Prof. Ekanem said, “No matter the result of their research, you cannot extrapolate animal research to humans. You can only get clues from animal research but you have to design research that is ethically acceptable for humans before concluding.”
On his part, Oloyede said it is a fallacy to think that drinking palm wine will enhance the flow of breastmilk.
He listed the conditions that could impede the flow of breastmilk in a mother to be anxiety, stress, overworking, poor positioning and attachment, scheduled feeding, and long separation of mother from the child.
According to the nutritionist, the major factors that can increase breast milk flow are a state of psychological well-being, adequate and healthy diet and good hydration.
Explaining why palm wine is not advisable for a breastfeeding mother, Oloyede said, “The alcohol content of palm wine which is far greater than that of beer can flow through breastmilk to the baby, and alcohol is considered unfit for babies.”
He advised that “When there is an issue with breast milk flow, breastfeeding mothers should seek one on one skilled counselling on breastfeeding from either a trained health worker, a nutritionist, or a breastfeeding counsellor in the health facility or community.”
Continuing he said, “Rather than taking alcohol at all, it is advised that such mothers should drink water or pap to stay hydrated, a condition that facilitates the flow of breastmilk.
“It should be noted that pap in itself does not improve the flow but it helps because it’s essentially water and for psychological effects in communities where it has formed part of the culture.”