Breast Milk DHA Testing

Our Breast Milk DHA Test Center works in conjunction with lactation consultants to test their clients breast milk for DHA levels. This enables breastfeeding mothers to determine whether they are providing the recommended amount of DHA to their infants, which is approximately 0.32 − 0.35 % of milk fat for term infants.

Why Is Dha Important for Infants?

DHA is well recognized as a physiologically-essential polyunsaturated fatty acid needed in sufficient amounts in the brain and retina to support optimal cognitive and visual functioning, along with other health benefits during infant growth and development. Higher levels of DHA omega-3 in breast milk and higher DHA intakes by infants have been associated with:

  • Better performance in neuro-behavioural functioning amongst infants
  • Improved visual acuity
  • Improved hand-eye coordination
  • Lower risk of bronchitis and bronchiolitis

Infants cannot efficiently produce their own DHA and must obtain it from breast milk or infant formula following birth. Breast milk naturally contains DHA; however, the amount of DHA found in breast milk can vary significantly depending on the mother’s diet.

Why Is Testing Important?

The only way to determine DHA levels in breast milk is to have it tested. DHA levels are difficult to guess because different types of fish and other food sources contain different amounts of DHA, and other dietary factors can influence the amount of absorption of DHA in the body. Our lab will take a small sample of breast milk, measure its DHA level, and send a report to the lactation consultant indicating the DHA Score and where it falls within the recommended range. Having this knowledge enables lactation consultants to help their breastfeeding clients adjust their diet accordingly (if necessary) so that they can reach recommended DHA levels in a relatively short period of time. This can be confirmed by re-testing of a breast milk sample after a 2-4 week period following efforts to enhance DHA intakes.