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Use of Low-Carbohydrate Diets During Lactation: Implications for Mothers and Infants

Wood, Susan MS, RD; Hildebrandt, Leslie A. PhD, RD


Low-carbohydrate diets may be consumed postpartum in an attempt to lose body fat gained during pregnancy. Carbohydrate restriction can cause dehydration, muscle loss, hypoglycemia, and potentially impair milk production. Underconsumption of carbohydrate will create a rise in maternal circulating ketone bodies (3-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate), which could increase their concentration in breast milk. Since ketone bodies are used as a substrate for central nervous system lipid biosynthesis, it is possible that an increase in their consumption via breast milk may alter infant neural development. The impact of carbohydrate-restricted diets on lactation performance and infant development warrants investigation.

Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Corresponding author: Leslie A. Hildebrandt, PhD, RD, Central Michigan University, 103 Wightman Hall, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859 (e-mail:

The authors thank Dr Robert Lee, RD, Dr Jack Logomarsino, RD, and Christine Henries-Zerbe, MS, RD, for their thoughtful review of the article.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.