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Organic extra virgin olive oil proves its benefit for lactating women

A doctoral thesis argues that prevents and even treats cracks in mothers’ nipples

A thesis presented at Spain’s University of Jaen highlights the benefits of organic extra virgin olive oil for breastfeeding mothers. This is the central conclusion drawn in midwife and doctor Irene Agea’s paper titled “Application of organic extra virgin olive oil in pain, nipple cracks and duration of breastfeeding”.

The main objective of her study was to demonstrate that Ecologic EVOO actually assists in the prevention as well as the treatment of nipple pain and cracks among breastfeeding women, compared to using expressed breast milk for the same purpose.

The clinical trial was conducted throughout 2017 at the Hospital San Juan de la Cruz in Úbeda (Jaén) among 126 women of legal age who delivered at term, initiated breastfeeding after delivery and signed informed consent.

The participants were assigned to the experimental group

 or the control group (breast milk) by stratified randomisation by age intervals. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Jaén.

The author of the thesis found that applying Ecologic EVOO was as effective as breast milk in the treatment of nipple cracks, with greater efficacy in primiparous women. The application of  EVOO to the nipple was equally effective in pain control compared to the application of expressed breast milk.

“The highest incidence of nipple cracking occurs in the first week after delivery in both groups,” Agea writes. “Nipple pain is frequent and severe, especially in that first week, in both groups. Although with a minimal statistical difference, the probability of occurrence of cracks is lower with the application of organic extra virgin olive oil.”

In relation to the duration of breastfeeding, in primiparous women, the duration was similar between those who applied Ecologic EVOO and those who used expressed breast milk, she said. Early initiation of breastfeeding during the first two hours after delivery may prevent the occurrence of nipple cracking. Breastfeeding education during pregnancy increases the duration of breastfeeding.

Agea emphasises that, with this research, mothers who have a problem manipulating their nipples to express milk are offered an equally valid alternative to prevent and treat cracks and pain in the nipples – organic extra virgin olive oil.

“We are pleased,” writes Agea, “to make any possible contribution to reducing the rate of breastfeeding abandonment and prolonging its duration, as recommended by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.”