Human milk fatty acids from lactating mothers of preterm infants: A study revealing wide intra- and inter-individual variation

Lisa Smithers, Maria Makrides, Robert Gibson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) are important nutrients in the preterm diet and fixed ratios have been proposed for formula. We evaluated the intra- and inter-individual variation in milk fatty acids from mothers of preterm infants involved in a randomised trial of tuna oil or placebo supplementation. Milk samples were collected every 2 weeks while infants were hospitalised and fatty acids analysed by capillary gas chromatography. DHA was higher in milk of supplemented mothers than control (% total fatty acids, mean±SD, treatment 0.9±0.4, control 0.3±0.1, p<0.0005) and ranged between 0.3-2.5% and 0.1-1.1%, respectively. AA did not differ between groups and ranged between 0.2-0.9% and 0.3-0.9%, respectively. Control mothers milk had wider AA:DHA ratio than treatment mothers (0.4-3.2 versus 0.2-2.1). Due to the wide variation in milk AA and DHA, statements recommending infant formula based on a fixed AA:DHA ratio should be re-examined.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)9-13
    Number of pages5
    JournalProstaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids
    Volume83
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010

    Keywords

    • Arachidonic acid
    • Docosahexaenoic acid
    • Human milk
    • Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids

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