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J Hum Lact. 2000 Feb;16(1):28-35.

The fatty acid composition of human milk in northern Nigeria.

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Department of Paediatrics, Jos University Teaching Hospital.


The authors previously reported that the milk of Yoruba women in southwestern Nigeria was deficient in alpha-linolenic acid and contained a high percentage (42%) of medium chain-length fatty acids (MCFA, C10-C14). In the present study, the authors used capillary gas-liquid chromatography to analyze the milk of Hausa women in the northern region of Nigeria. The milk of the Hausa women contained 27% MCFA, 10.6% linoleic acid, 0.41% alpha-linolenic acid, 0.52% arachidonic acid, and 0.32% docosahexaenoic acid. The proportion of alpha-linolenic acid in the serum phospholipids of a subset of exclusively breastfed infants (n = 15; mean age, 6.2 +/- 0.3 months) was below the limit of detection (< 0.03%). While the milk of women in northern Nigeria is adequate with regard to n-3 and n-6 fatty acids, to satisfy the requirements for alpha-linolenic acid, it may be necessary to supplement the infants of these women after the first 6 months of life.

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