Certain foods are believed to have galactagogue properties, such as brewer’s yeast, plantain flower, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, or lactation cookies, among many others. Although the scientific evidence for these products as galactagogues is limited and their effect is not proven (1), these products continue to be recommended to help increase breastmilk supply.
In recent years, cookies based on oats, brewer’s yeast, flaxseed, and fenugreek are being marketed, especially in the USA, with alleged galactagogue properties. A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has assessed the effectiveness of these cookies by means of a randomized, controlled, blinded clinical trial (2).
This study included 176 women aged 18 to 45 years who were exclusively breastfeeding healthy, full-term, 2-month-old infants and who consumed such cookies daily for one month. The participants were assigned into two groups: a control group and an intervention group. Those in the intervention group were given a package of unlabeled lactation cookies daily. Those in the control group were given cookies without galactagogue components with a similar nutritional profile to the lactation cookies as a placebo.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the lactation cookies, they measured the milk supply rate before and after treatment using a validated milk expression protocol. They also measured the perceived lack of breastmilk and the breastfeeding self-efficacy score.
The results of the study show that after one month of consuming lactation cookies, there were no significant differences in the milk supply rate, in the perception of low breastmilk supply, or in breastfeeding self-efficacy using the validated BSES-SF scale (3).
Therefore, these lactation cookies did not prove to be effective in increasing breastmilk supply.
This study lacks an assessment of infant growth and weight gain in the study month, which are important data when assessing hypogalactia or the sensation of a lack of breastmilk supply. Despite this and the small sample size, the study provides evidence that these types of products, which are usually expensive, are ineffective in increasing milk supply and may generate false hopes and unnecessary financial costs at a vulnerable time. In addition, the safety of consuming these products for the breastfeeding mother and baby has not been evaluated.
1. Foong S, Tan M, WC F, Marasco L, Ho J, Ong J. Oral galactagogues (natural therapies or drugs) for increasing breast milk production in mothers of non-hospitalised term infants. Cochrane database Syst Rev. 2020 May 18;5(5).
2. Palacios AM, Cardel MI, Parker E, Dickinson S, Houin VR, Young B, et al. Effectiveness of Lactation Cookies on Human milk production rates: A Randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2023;
3. Dennis C. The breastfeeding self-efficacy scale: psychometric assessment of the short form. J Obstet Gynecol neonatal Nurs JOGNN. 2003 Nov;32(6):734–44.