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Human milk and lactation

Human milk and lactation

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].

In this project, we use our optical technologies to learn more about the composition of human milk and the physiology of lactation. 

team N. Bosschaart (Nienke)
Associate Professor - Principal investigator
Hanna de Wolf MSc
PhD student
Miriam van der Hoek BSc
Master Student
Rachel Foppen
Bachelor Student


  1. 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:
  2. C. Veenstra, A. Lenferink, W. Petersen, W. Steenbergen, N. Bosschaart, Optical properties of human milk, Biomedical Optics Express 10(8), 4059-4074 (2019), doi:
  3. 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:
  4. 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 Dr. Katie Hinde: What we don't know about mother's milk


PhD Students

  • Colin Veenstra

Master Students

  • MSc. Hanna de Wolf, Biomedical Engineering & Applied Physics

Bachelor Students

  • BSc. Anki Lenferink, Biology and Medical Laboratory Research - Saxion Hogeschool
  • BSc. Miriam van der Hoek, Biomedical Engineering
  • BSc. Gerhard Berman, Biomedical Engineering


  • MSc. Dayna Every