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Why Some Women Have Underdeveloped Breasts

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
Why Some Women Have Underdeveloped Breasts
Underdevelopment of breasts can make it more difficult for women to breastfeed. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

Underdeveloped breasts can be called a number of different things, including small breasts and hypoplastic breasts. Although many may defer to breast size as being an unimportant characteristic of our individual bodies, some women experience some complications regarding their breast size. This underdevelopment can occur for one of several reasons.


Breast size is often easily identifiable by the woman herself--clothing can mask and confuse the size of a person's breasts, but there are signs a woman can look for that become more evident following pregnancy, when the negative effects of underdeveloped breasts is most evident. You may notice your breasts being very narrow and lacking a normal fullness, and there may be some apparent swelling on or around the nipple.

Possible Causes

Genetics sometimes influence the size of breasts, but some women may also suffer from malnutrition and a dangerously low body fat content that leads to small breasts. A common occurrence among new mothers is the inability to produce any milk or a limited ability to produce only a small amount of milk. This can result from a smaller number of milk glands in the breast.


Some women may find themselves unable to breastfeed their child at all, which can be disheartening to new mothers. Other women may only be capable of producing a small amount of milk for their child while being forced to supplement with formula. The social impact of underdeveloped breasts can have a strong influence on the self-esteem of women, particularly adolescents, leading to a loss of self-confidence and reduced feelings of self-worth.


Some women choose to receive breast implants to increase the perceived size of their breasts. This can have both cosmetic and social benefits, but it does not boost the milk-producing capabilities of a woman's breasts and does not increase the likelihood of being able to provide milk to a child. If you are concerned about the size of your breasts, visit a doctor to determine the cause and to evaluate what courses of action and treatment are available to you based on your circumstances.

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