Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Early Hum Dev. 1996 Mar 22;44(3):215-23.

Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid content in Dutch preterm breast milk; differences in the concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid due to length of gestation.

Author information

  • 1Neonatal Centre, Saint Joseph Hospital, Veldhoven, The Netherlands.


Recognizing the important role of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP) particularly in preterm infant nutrition, we studied the fatty acid composition of breast milk from 65 mothers of very preterm ( < 31 weeks of gestation) and preterm ( > or = 31 and < 36 weeks of gestation) infants. Fatty acids were determined as fatty acid methyl esters by capillary gas chromatography. In accordance with other studies, the increase of capric acid, lauric acid and myristic acid during lactation is influenced by prematurity. Unsaturated fatty acids had the inclination to decrease. Our interest was mainly focused on docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA). Accelerated brain growth during the last trimester of gestation requires an extra need for these LCPs. In our study, preterm milk after a gestation period of at least 32 weeks contained the highest amounts of DHA and AA. The Western maternal diet is considered to be low in omega 3 fatty acids, that is why the concentration of DHA in our preterm milk can be regarded as a low amount. As it is the milk of their mothers, and because the amounts are higher than normally found in Western full term breast milk, the contribution of DHA to preterm milk fat (0.34%) might be considered, for the time being, as a safe natural guideline for formulas for preterm infants.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk