Human milk and lactation

Human milk and lactation

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Breastfeeding has unique and unparalleled advantages for mothers and infants: it supports optimal physical and cognitive development, it protects against infections, and it plays an important role in the development of our microbiome[i]. But despite all of these benefits, many mothers experience breastfeeding problems, and many aspects of human milk and lactation are not yet completely understood[ii].

We use our optical technologies to learn more about the composition of human milk and the physiology of lactation. The majority of our research is currently funded by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC): LactIns-and-outs.

team N. Bosschaart (Nienke)
Adjunct Professor - Principal investigator
ir. J.R. de Wolf MSc (Hanna)
PhD Candidate D. Thompson (David)
Postdoctoral researcher
C.W. Verveld (Wietske)
PhD Candidate
A. Boamfa (Ana)
PhD Candidate
Vera Lammens
BSc student - Biomedical Engineering
Eva Mulders
BSc student - Biomedical Engineering
Lonneke Heerkes
BSc student - Biomedical Engineering
Rozan Gierveld
BSc student - Biomedical Engineering


PhD Students

Master Students

Bachelor Students



  1. N. Bosschaart, S.M. Manohar, New directions for optical breast imaging and sensing: multimodal cancer imaging and lactation research, Current Opinion in Biomedical Engineering, accepted for publication (2022), doi: (invited)
  2. J.R. de Wolf, A. Lenferink, A. Lenferink, C. Otto, N. Bosschaart, Evaluation of the changes in human milk lipid composition and conformational state with Raman spectroscopy during a breastfeed, Biomedical Optics Express 12(7), 3934-3947 (2021), doi: (editors pick)
  3. C. Veenstra, D. Every, W. Petersen, J.B. van Goudoever, W. Steenbergen, N. Bosschaart, Dependency of the optical scattering properties of human milk on casein content and common sample preparation methods, Journal of Biomedical Optics 25(4), 045001 (2020), doi:
  4. C. Veenstra, A. Lenferink, W. Petersen, W. Steenbergen, N. Bosschaart, Optical properties of human milk, Biomedical Optics Express 10(8), 4059-4074 (2019), doi:
  5. N. Bosschaart, A. Leproux, O. Abdalsalam, W. Chen, C.E. McLaren, B.J. Tromberg, T.D. O’Sullivan, Diffuse optical spectroscopic imaging for the investigation of human lactation physiology: a case study on mammary involution, Journal of Biomedical Optics 24(5), 056006 (2019), doi:
  6. M. van der Hoek, L. den Haan, A. Kaspers, W. Steenbergen, N. Bosschaart, Cutaneous perfusion of the human lactating breast: a pilot study with laser Doppler perfusion monitoring, Physiological Measurement 40(5), 05NT01 (2019), doi:

Further reading

i. C.G. Victora, R. Bahl, A.J.D. Barros, G.V.A. Franca, S. Horton, J. Krasevec, S. Murch, M.J. Sankar, N. Walker, N.C. Rollins on behalf of The Lancet Breastfeeding Series Group, Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms and lifelong effect, The Lancet 387, p475-490 (2016)

ii. TED talk by Prof. Katie Hinde: What we don't know about mother's milk