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Woman produces milk from armpit after childbirth, diagnosed with extra breast tissue

Portugal: A 26-year-old woman in Portugal began lactating from her armpit, according to new research published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Just two days after giving birth, the mother complained of discomfort in her right armpit to her doctors. When the physicians inspected her armpit, they discovered a spherical lump that ‘released a white discharge when pressed’ which turned out to be breastmilk.

Polymastia is ‘a condition in which accessory breast tissue develops along the former embryonic mammary ridge,’ according to doctors at Hospital de Santa Maria in Lisbon, Portugal.

As per a 1999 study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, up to 6% of women are born with this ‘accessory’ breast tissue. In some situations, the additional breast tissue contains a nipple or areola (the pigmented region around the nipple), whereas, in others, only the breast tissue is present, with no nipples or areola.

When the cells that become mammary glands create a line from the armpit to the groyne on either side of the body during foetal development, the syndrome occurs. Except at the locations for the breasts, this ‘mammary ridge’ or ‘milk line’ usually fades as the foetus grows.

However, this does not always occur and the ‘milk line’ persists, resulting in the formation of extra breast tissue at certain locations in the body. The armpit is the most typical site for accessory breast tissue.

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If the location lacks a nipple or areola, people may not realise they have accessory breast tissue until they get pregnant or start breastfeeding.

Doctors reassured the Portuguese woman that her illness is benign. She was advised that the additional breast tissue, like normal breast tissue, would need to be screened for malignancy at standard breast cancer screening.

It’s unknown if the lady was able to breastfeed or use the accessory tissue to pump milk. According to 1999 research, an 18-year-old woman was able to alleviate discomfort by pumping milk from her armpit breast tissue.


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