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Review article

Breast milk: Fatty acid composition and maternal diet

Greta Krešić orcid id ; Katedra za hranu i prehranu, Fakultet za menadžment u turizmu i ugostiteljstvu Opatija, Sveučilište u Rijeci, Primorska 42, pp 97, 51410 Opatija, Hrvatska
Mihela Dujmović
Milena L. Mandić
Nikolina Mrduljaš

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page 158-171

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Breast milk from healthy and well-nourished mothers is the preferred form of infants´ feeding in the first six months after parturition, and breastfeeding in this period supports the normal growth and development of new-born infants. During the first month postpartum, breast milk changes through three stages: colostrum, transitional milk and mature milk. Mature milk, which is excreted after the 16th day postpartum, contains on average 3.4-4.5 % lipids. Breast milk lipids fulfill 40-55 % of an infant´s daily energy needs and provide a supply of fat-soluble vitamins and fatty acids. The characteristics of milk lipids are largely determined by their fatty acid composition. In this work the general characteristics of breast milk and milk lipids, as well as the influence of maternal diet on composition of fatty acids in breast milk, are discussed. Breast milk provides all dietary essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (C18:2n-6) and α-linolenic acid (C18:3n-3), as well as their longer-chain more-unsaturated metabolites, including arachidonic acid (C20:4n-6) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-3). Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are of particular importance in visual and neural development, and their content in milk is a reflection of the mother´s current and long-term dietary intake. A positive association has been established between the maternal intake of fish and seafood and the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (especially docosahexaenoic acid) in milk. Numerous researches have been shown that supplementation with docosahexaenoic acids during the last trimester of pregnancy and during lactation significantly increases the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids in breast milk.


lactation; fatty acids; long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; diet

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