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Br J Nutr. 1989 Nov;62(3):693-7.

Breast milk fatty acids in mothers of children with atopic eczema.

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University of Zimbabwe Medical School, Harare, Zimbabwe.


The total lipid fatty acid composition of mature breast milk has been analysed in a group of twenty-five mothers of children with atopic eczema, and compared with breast milk from twenty-two controls. Total lipids were extracted into chloroform-methanol (2:1, v/v) and the methyl esters prepared by alkalicatalysed trans-esterification were separated by gas-liquid chromatography and identified by comparison with standard fatty acid methyl esters. Results show that mothers of children with atopic eczema have a significantly greater proportion of linoleic acid, and a smaller proportion of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid in their total breast milk lipid than the controls. Proportions of total derived fatty acids were similar between groups and there were no differences in the principal saturated and monounsaturated fats. It was concluded that mothers of children with atopic eczema have an abnormal breast-milk fatty acid composition. This supports previous evidence of a defect of conversion of linoleic acid into its long-chain polyunsaturated metabolites in the condition.

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