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Original scientific paper

Fatty acid composition of human milk and infant formulas

Ivančica Delaš ; Sveučilište u Zagrebu, Medicinski fakultet, Zavod za kemiju i biokemiju, Zagreb
Tanja Kaćunko
Jasna Beganović
Frane Delaš

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page 101-112

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The appropriate fatty acid composition of membrane lipids is necessary for structure and function of the developing nervous system. Rapid synthesis of brain tissue occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy and the early postnatal weeks. This synthesis of brain structure involves the formation of complex lipids, many of which contain significant quantities of essential fatty acids and their higher homologs. This study was undertaken to elucidate how fatty acid compositions of available diets for infants meet the requirements for essential fatty acids. Samples of infant formulas, present on the market, as well as milk samples obtained from breast feeding mothers, were extracted by chloroform : methanol mixtures in order to obtain total lipids. Fatty acid methyl esters were prepared and fatty acid composition was revealed by gas chromatography. Special interest was directed to the content of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. The results have shown that infant formulas, designed to substitute mothers’ breast milk, contain medium chain fatty acids (C 10:0, C 12:0), along with the other saturated fatty acids, in the amounts acceptable for infants’ energy consumption. Although linoleic acid (C18:2, n-6) was present at the level expected to cover needs for essential fatty acids, most of the tested products did not contain sufficient amounts of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, despite the fact that these fatty acids are necessary for undisturbed brain development, ignoring the strong recommendations that they should be used as a supplement in infants’ food.


long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, human milk, infant formulas, infants, breastfeeding

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