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Breast Milk Test Costs $147: Is it Worth it?

Update Date: Jul 09, 2013 03:17 PM EDT

Studies and researchers continue to find evidence praising the health benefits of breast milk. In a recent study published by the British Medical Journal, researchers analyzed over 30,000 babies. They found that breastfed babies were 24 percent more likely to climb the social ladder and 20 percent less like to fall off of it. Despite these studies that promote breastfeeding, a new study from the United Kingdom's Stirling University reports that not all breast milk is the same and thus, not all milk is safe or beneficial for growing infants. The researchers from this University suggest breastfeeding mothers to get a test that costs £99 or $147 that would tell mothers if their milk is good.

According to the researchers, for breast milk to help with infant growth, it should have the right amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The researchers found that breast milk with omega 3 helps significantly with brain development and cognitive growth. Breast milk high in omega 6, however, can be bad for the infant because it appears to block the effects of omega 3. Omega 6 was also tied to negatively affecting brain development.

"There is good evidence to show that omega 3 benefits mental development, the immune system and general health,' says Professor Gordon Bell, who is a fish-oil expert and the lead researcher of this study reported by Daily Mail. "It is important for young children to get the correct amounts. It can also protect against future problems with cardiovascular disease."

The researchers then proceeded to create the My Milk Count test that informs mothers of their omega 3 and omega 6 levels. Since these fatty acids can be maintained through diet, the researchers believe that the test can provide a base for mothers to start. The test measures levels of omega three and categorizes them into three sections called "low," "sub-optimal" and "optimal." For the levels that do not fit in the optimal range, researchers provide information as to how to get this level up and recommends mothers to come back for another test to make sure omega 3 levels are optimal. This series of tests could potentially lead to a lot of money spent.

Whether or not the test is worth the money, there is mounting evidence in favor of omega 3 levels. In 2012, researchers from the University of Southern Carolina found that babies fed on omega 3-rich breast milk had a lower chance of developing asthma. In another study published in Asthma, researchers found that babies fed breast milk with high levels of omega 6 were more likely to develop asthma. However, not all studies have found that increasing omega 3 has a direct effect on a baby's brain development. 

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