December 19, 2018
Wouldn’t it be handy if your breast milk came with a nutritional label? Now there’s a home testing kit from a California-based company called Lactation Lab that measures the calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat content present in a new mom’s breast milk. All she has to do is pump out a small sample over a 24-hour period, freeze it, and ship it off for evaluation.
Within three to five business days, the company notifies the nursing mother of the results. . Lactation Lab provides a detailed analysis of the nutritional content of the breast milk, including protein, carbohydrates, fat, calories, calcium, iron, key vitamins (Vitamins A, C, and B-12) and fatty acids including LA, ALA, ARA and DHA. They are also equipped to test for the presence of environmental toxins—such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury (all of which can make their way into breast milk).
Along with the analysis, the company offers nutritional recommendations to the mother, which should improve the quality of the breast milk—and ensure an infant’s optimal health and growth.
Dr. Stephanie Canale—a Santa Monica, California-based family physician and assistant clinical professor at UCLA—came up with the idea a couple of years ago, according to the Lactation Lab website. A working mother of two,k Dr. Canale first thought of testing the nutrients in breast milk after returning to work and trying to continue to breastfeed her infant daughter.
“I was trying to balance working full-time, being on call and caring for a very active 2-year old boy while pumping for my daughter,” she recently said during an appearance on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. “Despite having enough volume of milk, at one point my daughter was not gaining weight and I said to myself, of all the things I test, why is there no way of knowing what is in MY milk?”
The company, which is about one year old, is the talk of the lactation community. New mom Casey Gorham said she first noticed that her son, Sequoia, was having problems gaining weight two weeks after birth.
“My baby just kept getting smaller. His arms were getting smaller. His bones were sticking out,” she told Good Morning America.” “He just looked small. It was very concerning, especially as a first-time mom.”
After consulting her pediatrician, Gorham said she began using the new breast milk testing kit from a company called Lactation Lab. Gorham said she followed the company’s recommendations, and as she began making “changes to my diet” her son started gaining weight. “My calorie count went up for my milk,” she added. “The kit really helped me and just reassured me a lot.”
That reassurance means a lot to new mothers, says Dr. Canale. she says the test is evidence-based and that Lactation Lab conducted a study of 30 women to learn about what was in their breast milk. S
“What we found,” she told GMA, “is that … they were given specific dietary recommendations and then they retested their milk,” she said. “And those women actually went on to breastfeed for longer than expected, because they were reassured.”
Of the 30 women, 28 reported they continued past the six months of exclusive breast-feeding that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, though it is unclear if the women would have continued anyway. News
Currently, there are no independent studies that verify the accuracy of these tests, which is why some doctors remain unconvinced by the claims behind them, or the need for them.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician and chief of Digital Innovation at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told GMA that all breast milk is not created equal.
“Breast milk isn’t the same on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday. It is not the same in the morning or at night. It is not even the same at the beginning of a nursing session and at the end,” she said. “So the way that samples are collected concerns me that it won’t give a global picture of a complete nutrition.”
“I think we have to take a really careful look at what this puts out to the world and how this really affects moms who are just trying to do their best, supporting themselves and their babies,” she added.
Lactation Lab isn’t alone in offering these tests. They also are available from other companies, including MyMilk and EverlyWell also offer them.
Research contact: @LactationLab