Importance of the lactation period in developmental programming in rodents

Guadalupe L. Rodrıguez-Gonzalez, Claudia J. Bautista, Karen I. Rojas-Torres, Peter W. Nathanielsz, Elena Zambrano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Lactation is a critical period during which maternal nutritional and environmental challenges affect milk composition and, therefore, organ differentiation, structure, and function in offspring during the early postnatal period. Evidence to date shows that lactation is a vulnerable time during which transient insults can have lasting effects, resulting in altered health outcomes in offspring in adult life. Despite the importance of the developmental programming that occurs during this plastic period of neonatal life, there are few comprehensive reviews of the multiple challenges-especially to the dam-during lactation. This review presents milk data from rodent studies involving maternal nutritional challenges and offspring outcome data from studies involving maternal manipulations during lactation. Among the topics addressed are maternal nutritional challenges and the effects of litter size and artificial rearing on offspring metabolism and neural and endocrine outcomes. The lactation period is an opportunity to correct certain functional deficits resulting from prenatal challenges to the fetus, but, if not personalized, can also lead to undesirable outcomes related to catch up-growth and overnutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-47
Number of pages16
JournalNutrition Reviews
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Lactational programming
  • Milk composition
  • Offspring outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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