Winthrop Professor Peter Hartmann, who founded the Human Lactation Research Group at The University of Western Australia, said he expected the Lactation Assessment and Management Program, known as LAMP, to be ready for launch by the end of this year, helped by the Rotary Club of Southern Districts which donated $72,000 to the project.
“One of the problems for health practitioners trying to diagnose human lactation issues is that there are no standard lines of medical assessment to follow,” Professor Hartmann said.
“If you go to a doctor with breastfeeding problems they will often tell you to go to a lactation consultant, but lactation consultants are not medically qualified.
“We’re fast tracking the latest information from researchers working in this field to provide general practitioners with solid research-based information to help them diagnose and treat women with breastfeeding problems.”
The program will initially target GPs but versions for allied health professionals such as midwives, child health nurses and pharmacists, as well as parents, are also being developed.
“GPs will have web-based access to the program to assist them in the diagnosis of the problem that the breastfeeding mother may be experiencing at the time of the consultation,” Professor Hartmann said. “They can review the suggested treatment and management plan that’s required for that particular issue and will also be able to review the scientific publications that formed the basis of the advice that has been given.
“What it will mean is that a general practitioner should be able to diagnose and treat a woman with breastfeeding problems, whether they are based in Kununurra, Karratha or Kalgoorlie, because they will have access to this program.”
The Rotary funding has allowed the Human Lactation Research Group to employ an extra researcher and effectively double the work input into the LAMP project.
Rotary clubs have a long history of supporting research at The University of Western Australia, including helping to establish WA’s first Medical School in 1957.
In 2010, Professor Hartmann and UWA Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Robyn Owens were presented with the prestigious Rank Prize for Nutrition in recognition of their research on human lactation, including methods for the non-invasive measurement of the rate of milk secretion.
Professor Hartmann was also made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012 for his contribution to research on human lactation.