Lactation in the human breast from a fluid dynamics point of view

S. Negin Mortazavi, Donna Geddes, Fatemeh Hassanipour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This study is a collaborative effort among lactation specialists and fluid dynamic engineers. The paper presents clinical results for suckling pressure pattern in lactating human breast as well as a 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling of milk flow using these clinical inputs. The investigation starts with a careful, statistically representative measurement of suckling vacuum pressure, milk flow rate, and milk intake in a group of infants. The results from clinical data show that suckling action does not occur with constant suckling rate but changes in a rhythmic manner for infants. These pressure profiles are then used as the boundary condition for the CFD study using commercial ANSYS FLUENT software. For the geometric model of the ductal system of the human breast, this work takes advantage of a recent advance in the development of a validated phantom that has been produced as a ground truth for the imaging applications for the breast. The geometric model is introduced into CFD simulations with the aforementioned boundary conditions. The results for milk intake from the CFD simulation and clinical data were compared and cross validated. Also, the variation of milk intake versus suckling pressure are presented and analyzed. Both the clinical and CFD simulation show that the maximum milk flow rate is not related to the largest vacuum pressure or longest feeding duration indicating other factors influence the milk intake by infants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011009
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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