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Breast Milk Omega-3
Easy to use spot cards require just drops of expressed milk for fatty acid profiling, with a focus on measuring long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA levels.

OmegaScore® - Personalized Omega-3 Testing in Breast Milk

Expressing Breast Milk

OmegaScore® personalised Omega-3 testing in Breast Milk is available exclusively from Lipid Analytical Labs (Guelph, ON, Canada) and CanAlt (Toronto, ON, Canada) whom have acquired specialized paper strip technology which can be mailed in for laboratory analysis for a fully personalized fatty acid profile including the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

During infancy, DHA is derived from breast milk is an essential nutrient found in high concentrations in the brain and retina (eye) where it supports optimal cognitive and visual functioning, respectively, along with other health benefits for the infant. Published population studies have shown that higher levels of DHA omega-3 in breast milk have been associated with better performance in neurobehavioral functioning and visual acuity amongst infants1,2. In other clinical studies, term infants fed breast milk containing 0.35 % of fat as DHA were found to have better scores in testing for their Psychomotor Development Index (a measure of hand-eye coordination) when toddlers as compared to those receiving only 0.20 % of milk fat by weight as DHA3. Very recent research studies have shown that DHA supplementation significantly benefits cognitive development during infancy4, and that long-chain omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (which typically includes DHA) has a positive effect on visual acuity during the first year of life5. Infant formula fed to full-term infants containing 0.32 % of milk fat as DHA has also been associated with providing a markedly lower risk of bronchitis and bronchiolitis6.

Consequently, infant formula as provided to newborn infants in hospitals in developed countries now regularly contain DHA as a nutrient ingredient as do most commercial formula for infants in the US and many in Canada with levels often ranging from 0.30-0.35% of the milk fat by weight. If below target when testing for the DHA level in the breast milk sample via your naturopath, breastfeeding mothers can be advised how to increase their DHA intake so as the increase the DHA breast milk status to meet the recommended targets.

For the vast majority of term infants, levels of DHA in breast milk of at least 0.30 to 0.35 % will provide the infant with at least 100 mgs (milligrams) of DHA per day which meets the minimum intake requirement as recommended by various international expert advisory committees.

The OmegaScore® Breast Milk report is not intended as a medical report or medical advice from Lipid Analytical Laboratory, LLC. It is solely a measurement and calculation of various fatty acids based of the samples provided. “Risk Levels” are intended as reference of measurement compared to recent academic research studies. A licensed health professional should be consulted regarding results or for advice on any dietary changes and/or supplementation that may be required.

Analytical Targets: Fatty acid methyl esters including but not limited to - Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA.)

Analysis Platform - GC-FID

Method Summary

This method determines the fatty acid composition (including DHA) of breast milk in relative (area %) values using a bonded polyglycol liquid phase in a flexible fused silica capillary column. The esterification of these fatty acids to fatty acid methyl esters is performed using an alkylation derivatization reagent. Methyl esters offer excellent stability and provide quick and quantitative samples for GC analysis. GC analysis provides a comprehensive profile that allows practitioners to accurately assess the content and profile of fatty acids in their oil product. Fatty acids are extracted in the presence of the internal standard using a priority solvent mixture. The fatty acid methyl esters are transmethylated. The resulting fatty acid methyl esters are then analyzed on an Agilent 7890B gas-liquid chromatograph with a 60-m DB-23 capillary column (0.32 mm internal diameter) against their internal standard. Data is reported in % fatty acid methyl ester by weight.

Sample Requirement

  • Small breast milk samples (a drop or two of expressed milk deposited on provided specialized absorbent pads.)
  • Breast milk samples may alternatively be provided via appropriate medical receptacles.

Data Reporting

  • Personalized Breast Milk OmegaScore® report, CoA (pdf.)
  • Data reported as: % by weight
  1. Jorgensen et al., J. Pediatric. Gastro. and Nutr., 32: 293-296 (2001)
  2. Hart et al., J. Pediatric . Psych., 31: 221-226 (2006)
  3. Jensen et al., Am. J.Clin. Nutr., 82 125-132 (2005)
  4. Jiao et al., Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 100: 1422-1436 (2014)
  5. Qawasmi et al., Pediatrics, 131: e262-e272 (2013)
  6. Pastor et al., Clin. Pediatrics, 45: 850-856 (2006)

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