Fifteen people have been arrested in Beijing in connection with a prostitution ring which used websites to connect young mothers with men who paid to be breastfed by them.

The Ministry of Public Security announced that police forces from Beijing and Hebei, Hubei and Jiangxi provinces in China were involved in breaking up the two gangs involved in the ring.

Police began their investigation after The Beijing News reported the existence of websites on which women were offering to breastfeed adults, reported the South China Morning Post.

More than 200 people across China allegedly paid for the service, with prices discussed on instant messaging apps and photographs of a selection of mothers provided for customers to choose from.

Potential subscribers to the service were offered membership deals costing 60 yuan ($9) a week, or up to 780 yuan a year, providing them with access to details of willing mothers.

As part of the newspapers investigation, a reporter arranged to be breastfed for 1,000 yuan by a 23-year-old mother, who also offered to have sex with him for a further 1,500 yuan.

The woman said only those who offered sexual services in addition to breastfeeding were assured regular work.

She said one website offered customers a monthly service costing 40,000 yuan for breastfeeding, and 50,000 yuan for breastfeeding plus sex.

Some mothers only breastfed their babies once a day or stopped breastfeeding them altogether in order to provide for clients, said the report.

Last year AFP reported that human breast milk had become a luxury for China's rich and is regarded in some regions as having healing properties, with firms offering a human breast milk service for adults and children.

"Adult (clients) can drink it directly through breastfeeding, or they can always drink it from a breast pump if they feel embarrassed," said Lin Jun, owner of Xinxinyu, a domestic services company that provided the service.

Wet nurses that serve adults are paid $2,600, nearly four times the monthly average.

On social media, Critics denounced the service as showing the moral degradation of China's rich.

Sexual arousal by breast feeding is known as "milk fetishism" and is also called "lactophilia".

Chinese police announced that 87,000 people have been arrested this year for their alleged involvement in prostitution and gambling, state news agency Xinhua reported.