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Male lactation in zoology means production of milk from mammary glands in the presence of physiological stimuli connected with nursing infants. It is well documented in the Dayak fruit bat.

The term male lactation is not used in human medicine. It has been used in popular literature, such as Louise Erdrich's The Antelope Wife, to describe the phenomenon of male galactorrhea which is a well documented condition in humans.

Newborn babies of both sexes can occasionally produce milk; this is called neonatal milk (also known as "Witch's milk") and not considered male lactation.

Male lactation was of some interest to Alexander von Humboldt, who reports in Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent of a citizen of the village Arenas (close to Cumana) who allegedly nurtured his son for three months when his wife was ill,[1] as well as Charles Darwin, who commented on it in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871):

It is well known that in the males of all mammals, including man, rudimentary mammae exist. These in several instances have become well developed, and have yielded a copious supply of milk. Their essential identity in the two sexes is likewise shown by their occasional sympathetic enlargement in both during an attack of the measles.[2]

Darwin later considered the nearly perfect function of male nipples in contrast to greatly reduced structures such as the vesicula prostatica, speculating that both sexes may have nursed young in early mammalian ancestors, and subsequently mammals evolved to inactivate them in males at an early age.[3]

Evolution and biology[edit]

Male mammals of many species have been observed to lactate under unusual or pathogenic conditions such as extreme stress, castration and exposure to phytoestrogens, or pituitary tumors. Therefore, it is hypothesized that, while most male mammals could easily develop the ability to lactate, there is no selective advantage to male lactation. While male mammals could, in theory, improve offspring's survival rate through the additional nourishment provided by lactation, most have developed other strategies to increase the number of surviving offspring, such as mating with additional partners. Presently, very few species are known where male lactation occurs and it is not well understood what evolutionary factors control the development of this trait.[4]

Nonhuman animal male lactation[edit]

The phenomenon of male lactation occurs in some other species, notably the Dayak fruit bat (Dyacopterus spadiceus), and the lactating males may assist in the nursing of their infants. In addition, male goats are known to lactate on occasion.[5] In rare cases male cats have been known to lactate in response to stimulation by a kitten, especially if the male has been neutered.[citation needed]

Human male lactation[edit]

The phenomenon of successful human male breastfeeding has been credibly observed in several cases.[6] However, the cases are not sufficiently documented to allow distinguishing of possible pathologic galactorrhea.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Voyage de Humboldt et Bonpland ; 1-3. Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent : fait en 1799, 1800, 1801, 1803 et 1804. Tome 1 / par Al. de Humboldt et A. Bonpland ; rédigé par Al. de Humboldt; J. Smith (Paris), 1814-1825, p. 376, (Online at gallica)
  2. ^ Descent of Man, Chapter I
  3. ^ Descent of Man, Chapter VI
  4. ^ Kunz, T; Hosken, D (2009). "Male lactation: why, why not and is it care?". Trends in Ecology & Evolution 24 (2): 80–85. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2008.09.009. PMID 19100649. 
  5. ^ Gómez MA, Garcés-Abadías B, Muñoz A, Vásquez F, Serrano J, Bernabé A (1999). "Structural and Ultrastructural Study of GH, PRL and SMT Cells in Male Goat by Immunocytochemical Methods". Cells Tissues Organs 165 (1): 22–29. doi:10.1159/000016670. PMID 10460970. 
  6. ^ Nikhil Swaminathan (2007-09-06). "Strange but True: Males Can Lactate". Scientific American. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 

General references[edit]

  • Angier, Natalie (February 24, 1994). "Some Male Bats May Double as Wet Nurses". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2013.  open access publication - free to read
  • Cr. J. Covey, Francis, Charles M., et al.; "Lactation in Male Fruit Bats," Nature, 367:691, 1994.
  • Fackelmann, K.A.; Science News, 145:148, 1994.
  • Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine G.M. Gould and W.L. Pyles

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_lactation — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

67 news items

LiveScience.com

LiveScience.com
Sat, 31 May 2014 06:35:03 -0700

To start, male lactation has been observed in a few domesticated animals, including cats, goats and guinea pigs, on rare occasions. However, male lactation seems to be common only in dayak fruit bats, though it's not yet clear why males of this species ...

Kokomo Tribune

Kokomo Tribune
Tue, 17 Feb 2015 12:57:27 -0800

I'm not convinced either the Nationwide executives or these judges researched male lactation beyond the one Scientific American article cited by the trial court. If they had, they might have been confronted with the rare and extreme circumstances under ...

Scientific American (blog)

Scientific American (blog)
Fri, 17 May 2013 05:11:15 -0700

As Gwenn Seemel points out in her richly illustrated book, Crime Against Nature, the non-human animal kingdom is chock-full of examples that challenge many of our deeply held beliefs about what is "natural" behavior in everything from sexual preference ...

YouTube

YouTube
Tue, 28 Sep 2010 23:01:46 -0700

See clearer footage here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Robgf9... My brother has been lactating since childhood. We finally have video evidence. Does he have excessive levels of prolactin? Some sort of chromosomal disorder? He does have weird finger ...

What's on Xiamen

What's on Xiamen
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 09:49:00 -0700

Unexpectedly, a 50-year-old resident in Xiamen, surnamed Zhang, registered for the training courses of lactation consultant recently, vowing to become the first male lactation consultant in Xiamen and in all of Fujian. Zhang became deeply interested in ...

Treehugger

Treehugger
Wed, 17 Jun 2015 11:18:58 -0700

On the one hand, it's great that the nutritional value of breast milk has become recognized. It's the superest of super foods with a long history of being shunned. But that it's become sought-after by male athletes as a bodybuilding supplement feels ...

Independent Women's Forum (blog)

Independent Women's Forum (blog)
Thu, 12 Feb 2015 10:33:45 -0800

Um, turns out that the case wasn't about male lactation at all. Snopes.com took the trouble of actually reading both the opinion of Des Moines, Iowa U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt (a Bill Clinton appointee, by the way), and that of the 8th U.S ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Mon, 25 May 2015 16:21:49 -0700

From everyday painkillers in our bathroom cabinets to prescription heart pills, no drug is without potential side-effects. These range from the harmless, or even desirable - drowsiness caused by an antihistamine when one needs to sleep, for example ...
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