Some babies are born with a genetic mutation that gives them extra milk that’s not the right quality for their developing baby.
But there are some other clues to whether your child has the right milk for them.
We’ve looked at a few of these, including a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr Steve Chibana, a professor of paediatrics at the University of Tasmania, says there’s a new technique called cryopreservation that can be used to make sure milk is delivered to a child with the right mutation.
“What you need to do is to take a sample of the milk that your baby’s getting, and then cryoprotect the milk with an enzyme that gives it a specific structure,” Dr Chibany says.
“And if that enzyme is there and there’s some methyl groups in the structure of the methyl group, then the enzyme will give it a methyl group and the structure will be different from what the baby’s got in the milk.”
What’s a methyl methyl group?
Dr Chibann says the methyl groups found in the protein methyl group are important for making it safe to put in a baby’s body.
“Methyl groups are a kind of an adhesive that is used to hold the proteins together, so the proteins can be more stable and the proteins will stay in place better, and the methyls help to prevent proteins from getting out of place,” he says.
So, if you find your baby has a methyl-group-positive mutation, the next step is to cryoprocess the baby and then try to make a milk that will be as methyl-positive as possible.
But Dr Chubann says there are still some questions about cryopoietic techniques.
“I think we still don’t know the full impact of cryopoeia on milk quality and milk composition, so there are questions about the effects of cryotherapy on milk composition,” he said.
“If a baby has that methyl group mutation, you can cryopotect the baby, but there’s still a risk that you may not be able to get enough methyl groups out of the formula and that may lead to problems with milk composition.”
But that’s a lot less of a concern for people who have a methyl mutation that’s been preserved.
“So I think there’s potential for cryopothecary methods, like cryoprophesis and other techniques that we can use to preserve a baby for the long term, and also to preserve milk.”
If you have any more questions about how to tell if your baby or toddler has a mutation, check out our tips for parents to help find out more about their child.