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, 4 (10), e7579

The Secretion of Areolar (Montgomery's) Glands From Lactating Women Elicits Selective, Unconditional Responses in Neonates

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The Secretion of Areolar (Montgomery's) Glands From Lactating Women Elicits Selective, Unconditional Responses in Neonates

Sébastien Doucet et al. PLoS One.

Abstract

Background: The communicative meaning of human areolae for newborn infants was examined here in directly exposing 3-day old neonates to the secretion from the areolar glands of Montgomery donated by non related, non familiar lactating women.

Methodology/principal findings: The effect of the areolar stimulus on the infants' behavior and autonomic nervous system was compared to that of seven reference stimuli originating either from human or non human mammalian sources, or from an arbitrarily-chosen artificial odorant. The odor of the native areolar secretion intensified more than all other stimuli the infants' inspiratory activity and appetitive oral responses. These responses appeared to develop independently from direct experience with the breast or milk.

Conclusion/significance: Areolar secretions from lactating women are especially salient to human newborns. Volatile compounds carried in these substrates are thus in a position to play a key role in establishing behavioral and physiological processes pertaining to milk transfer and production, and, hence, to survival and to the early engagement of attachment and bonding.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Areolar glands and infant behavior.
A) Areola of a lactating woman (day 3 postpartum) with Montgomery's glands giving off their secretion (arrow). B and C) Newborns' oro-cephalic responses to the secretion of Montgomery's areolar gland (B: lip pursing; C: tongue protrusion). D) Mean (± sem) relative durations of newborns' oro-cephalic responses during (10-sec stimulus period) and after (10-sec post-stimulus period) presentation of various olfactory stimuli (Abbreviations: AG: secretions of areolar glands; S: sebum; HM: human milk; cow M: cow milk; FM: formula milk; van: vanillin; M: milk; f: familiar; nf: non-familiar; n = 19).
Figure 2
Figure 2. Inspiratory responses to areolar odor and to seven reference stimuli.
Mean (± sem) of maximum change of inspiratory amplitude (IAmax) in newborns during (2-sec stimulus blocks 1–5) and after (2-sec post-stimulus blocks 6–10) binarinal presentation of the following stimuli: A) areolar secretion; B) blank (water); C) sebum; D) human milk; E) cow milk; F) formula milk; G) vanillin; and H) habitual milk (mother's milk in breast-fed and formula milk in bottle-fed infants). Key to abbreviations in legend of Figure 1; values of IAmax in response to AG odor that differ significantly from the baseline are indicated by different letters; comparisons between the different stimuli (bold curves) and AG odor (red curves) are indicated by *, ** and ***: p<.05, .01 and .005, respectively; n = 16).
Figure 3
Figure 3. Respiratory rate in response to the odor of areolar secretion, sebum and milk.
Mean (± sem) respiratory rate (RR) change of newborns during (2-sec stimulus blocks 1–5) and after (2-sec post-stimulus blocks 6–10) of the presentation of areolar secretions, sebum and human milk (key to abbreviations in legend of Figure 1; n = 16).
Figure 4
Figure 4. Cardiac response to the areolar odor and the reference stimuli.
A) Mean (± sem) heart rate (HR) change of bottle- and breast-fed newborns in response to areolar secretions (n = 8 and 8; values of HR change of bottle-fed newborns in response to AG odor that differ significantly from the baseline are indicated by different letters); B to H) Mean (± sem) HR change of bottle-fed newborns during (blocks 1–5) and after (blocks 6–10) exposure to water (B), sebum (C), human milk (D), cow milk (E), formula milk (F), vanillin (G); and the infant's familiar milk (H) (Key to abbreviations, cf. Figure 1). Comparisons between the different stimuli (bold curves) and AG odor (red curves) are indicated by *, ** and ***: p<.05, .01 and .005, respectively; n = 8).

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