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Eur J Clin Nutr. 1988 Mar;42(3):213-20.

Fatty acid composition of human milk from South African black mothers consuming a traditional maize diet.

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Department of Haematology, School of Pathology, South African Institute for Medical Research, Johannesburg.


Fatty acid composition of mature human milk of rural and urban black South African mothers was determined by gas-liquid chromatography. Rural mothers consumed traditional diets low in animal protein and fat, and high in carbohydrate and fibre. Urban mothers consumed more varied, partially westernized diets, and two-thirds were overweight. Plasma cholesterol concentrations were significantly lower in the rural group (3.64 vs 4.75 mmol/l, P less than 0.01). Milk of rural mothers contained significantly higher percentages of C10:0, C12:0, and total saturated fatty acids. Fatty acids C8:0-C14:0 synthesized de novo in the mammary gland were substantially higher in the milk of the rural mothers (24.7 vs 15.9 per cent). Conversely, the milk of the urban group contained higher percentages of monounsaturated fatty acids, 18:3 omega 3 and 20:2 omega 6. The ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids in rural samples was 0.36 +/- 0.13 compared to 0.41 +/- 0.15 in urban samples (P greater than 0.1). It is concluded that maternal dietary intake significantly affects milk composition, as demonstrated by the high percentages of fatty acids synthesized de novo in the mammary gland of rural mothers habituated to low-fat, high-carbohydrate intakes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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