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Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996 Jun;50(6):352-7.

Effect of maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation on breast milk composition.

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Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park, Adelaide, SA, Australia.



To assess the effect of varying maternal intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22 : 6n-3), in the absence of other dietary polyunsaturates, on breast milk fatty acids.


Lactating mothers were randomised on day 5 post-partum to groups consuming equal numbers of capsules but containing either placebo or an oil containing DHA (43%) as its only polyunsaturate to receive 0, 0.2, 0.4, 0.9, 1.3 g DHA/day. Breast milk fatty acids as well as maternal plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids were assessed at 12 weeks post partum by capillary gas chromatography.


Breast milk DHA levels ranged from 0.2 to 1.7% of total fatty acids and increased in a dose dependent manner (r2 = 0.89, P < 0.01). Maternal plasma (r2 = 0.71, P < 0.01) and erythrocyte (r2 = 0.77, P < 0.01) phospholipid DHA levels increased and were also strongly associated with dietary dose of DHA. Increasing maternal dietary doses of DHA did not affect breast milk arachidonic acid (AA, 20 : 4n-6) levels or antioxidant status as measured by plasma vitamin A or E levels.


Our results have demonstrated that DHA in the diet has a strong, specific and dose-dependent effect on breast milk DHA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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