Mammary hypoplasia: not every breast can produce sufficient milk

J Midwifery Womens Health. Jul-Aug 2013;58(4):457-61. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12070. Epub 2013 Jul 19.


Breast milk is considered the optimal form of nutrition for newborn infants. Current recommendations are to breastfeed for 6 months. Not all women are able to breastfeed. Mammary hypoplasia is a primary cause of failed lactogenesis II, whereby the mother is unable to produce an adequate milk volume. Women with mammary hypoplasia often have normal hormone levels and innervation but lack sufficient glandular tissue to produce an adequate milk supply to sustain their infant. The etiology of this rare condition is unclear, although there are theories that refer to genetic predisposition and estrogenic environmental exposures in select agricultural environments. Women with mammary hypoplasia may not exhibit the typical breast changes associated with pregnancy and may fail to lactate postpartum. Breasts of women with mammary hypoplasia may be widely spaced (1.5 inches or greater), asymmetric, or tuberous in nature. Awareness of the history and clinical signs of mammary hypoplasia during the prenatal period and immediate postpartum increases the likelihood that women will receive the needed education and physical and emotional support and encouragement. Several medications and herbs demonstrate some efficacy in increasing breast milk production in women with mammary hypoplasia.

Keywords: abnormalities; breast; breastfeeding; galactagogue; human; lactation; milk; postpartum period; prenatal care.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Breast*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation*
  • Milk, Human*
  • Mothers
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy