Lactation Lab on Good Morning America

In case you missed it, Lactation Lab’s cutting edge breast milk tests were recently featured in a segment on ABC’s Good Morning America called, “What parents should know about the new test for your breast milk.”

The story profiled Casey Gorham, who took the Lactation Lab breast milk test (a “food label for breast milk”) when her baby was struggling to gain weight. After analyzing a sample of her milk, she was able to optimize her diet by adding more fat and calories, resulting in weight gain for her baby. Casey was someone who wanted to breastfeed her child, and due to the information provided by our test, she was able to continue that journey.

That’s exactly why we created Lactation Lab -- so that moms who may be struggling with breastfeeding can have more support and information about their milk. Dr. Canale created the test out of her own frustration as a breastfeeding working mom whose daughter wasn’t gaining enough weight. As a physician and a mother, she wished she had more information about her milk. She wanted to give other mothers a way to tweak their milk and celebrate the fact that they are able to breastfeed to provide what we know is the best nutrition.

There were a number of questions about Lactation Lab that the Good Morning America segment didn’t have time to address, so we asked Dr. Canale to answer a few of those topics here.

Can one sample of milk at one point in the day accurately reflect the quality of the milk? How does your collection method account for variability in breast milk from woman to woman, hour to hour, day to day, the beginning versus the end of the breastfeeding session?

Studies show that there are only slight variances in breast milk qualities (protein, carbohydrates, etc.) over a 24-hour period. To get the best results, we recommend collecting a small amount of milk as you pump throughout the day.

Much of the controversy around testing one sample of breastmilk centers around foremilk versus hindmilk. Foremilk, which is typically referred to as milk from the first three minutes of feeding, contains less fat than hindmilk, which comes towards the end of a feeding. Most feedings last longer than three minutes and typically include both foremilk and hindmilk. Foremilk also contains higher concentrations of important amino acids and fatty acids.

Bottom line, the most accurate test will be performed when mom collect milk for the test sample over a 24 hour period and not just one point in time.

Does the idea of testing milk create more fear about whether a mom’s milk is “good enough”?

I am the founder of Lactation Lab, and both of my kids had breast milk and formula. We strive to make sure that moms get the takeaway that their milk is amazing and that it is not about looking for deficiencies but instead fine-tuning their infants’ nutrition.

We live in a world of information, data and personalized medicine. We believe that knowledge leads to confidence and that confidence leads to empowerment. By offering insights, resources and support, we inspire confidence in moms by providing information based on hard science and academic research. We believe that our kits are a tool for mothers to learn more about their milk and feel less worry, guilt or shame.

For example, several mothers have taken our test and found that their milk contains significantly less calories than the average infant formula. These moms can objectively see why their babies need more and have felt less shame in introducing formula as they try to improve their milk. Many of our patients say they feel empowered to make better health choices and know exactly which supplements they should take. We have also had other moms take the test and found that their calorie count was in fact much higher than the average formula, leading to further diagnostics as to why their child was not thriving. In those cases, the information was an important indicator for other issues.

If you think the test will cause you to be more anxious about learning what is in your milk, then please do not do the test.

Is the test for all breastfeeding moms, or just those who are having trouble with weight gain?

As mentioned above, we’ve found that the test can certainly be extremely useful when a mom is struggling with baby weight gain. If she wants to continue to breastfeed, this can be a helpful tool in considering whether mom’s diet can help optimize the milk and her baby’s health.

The test has also been helpful for other moms as well. One mom that we tested found high levels of arsenic in her milk, which we traced back to a diet heavy in rice. Once she cut back on her daily rice consumption, the arsenic levels were nearly undetectable. The test is for any mother who wants more information about her breast milk.

What’s the science behind Lactation Lab?

Our unique and proprietary tests were researched and developed at a top academic institution with one of the most advanced laboratories in the world. Our facilities adhere to the highest standards and scientific methods for testing.

We only test for vitamins and nutrients that are affected by maternal diet; we do not test for Vitamin D, zinc, phosphorous, sodium or selenium given that these levels are not affected by maternal nutrition.

Finally, what should I do if I’m a mom struggling with breastfeeding or my baby not gaining enough weight?

If you are struggling with breastfeeding, the first step is to speak with your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant. Our kits are sold by many lactation consultants and by The Pump Station in Santa Monica, CA, as a tool to augment the understanding of the breastfeeding experience.

Anything else you’d like to share about questions or reactions to the GMA piece?

Given how emotionally charged breastfeeding can be, I understand why there are questions, and sometimes skepticism, about what we do. But every day, we focus on how we can help and support women through one of the most emotional, sometimes challenging aspects of new motherhood, to create tools that enable women to have the choice of whether to breastfeed or not. It’s our hope that our ongoing development and research around breast milk will help women make informed choices, and provide new understanding of an incredibly powerful substance.

Breast milk is so poorly studied and researched - most studies are dated and small, even though breast milk is so beneficial. It’s also our belief that our Lab will uncover new scientific knowledge about breast milk that will have implications far beyond our individual test results.

If you have any further questions about our tests, methodology or approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at stephanie@lactationlab.com.