Original Article

Somatic Cell Count: A Human Breast Wellbeing Indicator


  • Yati Vaidya
  • Shriram Patel
  • Chaitanya Joshi
  • Dev Nauriyal
  • Anju Kunjadia

Received Date: 31.01.2017 Accepted Date: 12.02.2017 Eur J Breast Health 2017;13(2):88-93


Human milk is universally accounted as the preeminent source of nutrition for infants. Surprisingly, no approved diagnostic tests are available for the diagnosis of physical condition of the breast. Somatic cell count (SCC) is a key tool commonly used in the dairy industry to provide evidence of udder health, which in turn determines the quality of bovine and cattle milk. Elevated levels of somatic cells in milk are observed during intra-mammary infectious state in bovine animals, which is due to active participation of the immune system. This constraint in humans can principally be used to study breast health.

Materials and Methods:

In the present study, 176 breast milk samples in total were randomly collected from four different regions of Gujarat, India. All the samples were subjected to somatic cell count and total bacterial count tests. The effect of geographical region and maternal health was studied on the basis of milk SCC and total bacterial load. Statistical interpretation of the results was done using PRISM 6.07.


Breast showing clinical symptoms of mastitis yielded a high SCC (>104 cells/microliter (μL)) and bacterial count (between 105 to 1011 Colony Forming Unit (CFU)/milliliter (mL)) in comparison to milk collected from healthy breast (<104 cells/μL and 103 to 104 CFU/mL). Statistical analysis reveals existence of significant correlation between the geographical region and SCC count of milk collected from healthy breast whereas no correlation was observed in infected breast milk. The study has also demonstrated that a lineer correlation exists between SCC and abundance of bacteria present in breast milk.


The present study could be employed to predict lactating breast health.

Keywords: Breast milk, breast health, colony forming unit, somatic cell count