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Human milk and lactation

Human milk and lactation

The benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies are evident: 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, there is a lot that we don't know (yet) about human milk and lactation[ii].

In this project, we use our optical technologies to learn more about the composition of human milk and the physiology of lactation. Because the more we know about the process of lactation, the better we can support mothers who experience breastfeeding problems. 

selected publications

  1. C. Veenstra, A. Lenferink, W. Petersen, W. Steenbergen, N. Bosschaart, Optical properties of human milk, Biomedical Optics Express 10(8), 4059-4074 (2019), doi:
  2. 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:
  3. 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:


N. Bosschaart (Nienke)
Assistant Professor
Hanna de Wolf BSc.
Master student

alumni and former team members

  • MSc. Dayna Every, Researcher
  • BSc. Anki Lenferink, Biology and Medical Laboratory Research - Saxion Hogeschool
  • BSc. Miriam van der Hoek, Biomedical Engineering

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. What we don't know about mother's milk