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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 Sep;89(4):241-4. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2013.06.005. Epub 2013 Jul 16.

Nervonic acid is much lower in donor milk than in milk from mothers delivering premature infants--of neglected importance?

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Borås Children's Hospital, South Älvsborg's Hospital, Borås, Sweden. Electronic address:


Nervonic acid is important for white matter development and its incorporation increases rapidly in the last trimester, but few studies focus on this fatty acid. Other mother's milk, usually after term delivery, is often used for premature infants, whose mothers cannot breastfeed. The fatty acid (FA) concentrations were analyzed by gas chromatography in 12 samples of donor human milk (DHM) from five mothers, and compared to milk from 42 mothers delivering preterm infants. Fat, lactose and protein contents were compared. Nervonic acid showed sevenfold higher concentrations and LCPUFA 90% higher concentrations in premature milk compared to DHM. Linoleic acid was found in 43% higher concentrations in DHM than in premature milk. The fat and protein contents were lower in DHM. Our results suggest that studies are warranted to investigate if DHM given to premature infants may require supplementation of nervonic acid, and not only LCPUFA, protein and minerals.


Arachidonic acid; Banked milk; Docosahexaenoic acid; Linoleic acid; White matter volume

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