Päivi Luukkainen, Matti K. Salo, Tapio Nikkari

Changes in the Fatty Acid Composition of Preterm and Term Human Milk from 1 Week to 6 Months of Lactation

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Using capillary gas chromatography, we analyzed the fatty acid composition of human milk from 23 women who had delivered prematurely and 16 women who had delivered at term. Milk samples were obtained at 1, 2, 4, 12, and 26 weeks after delivery. The relative amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids in preterm and term milk remained stable throughout the 6 months of lactation. The proportions of linoleate (18:2n‐6) and α‐linolenate (18:3n‐3) were similar in preterm and term milk and showed an increasing trend from transitional (8.7–9.9% and 0.9–1.1% of total fatty acids, respectively) to mature milk (9.9–11.8% and 1.2–1.5%, respectively). The proportions of the major long‐chain polyun‐saturated fatty acids (LCP), 20:3n‐6, 20:4n‐6, 22:5n‐3 and 22:6n‐3, were highest at 1 week and decreased thereafter in both types of milk. In term milk, the proportion of LCP continued to decrease from 1 month to 6 months, whereas in preterm milk it was fairly constant. Consequently, at 6 months of lactation, the relative content of arachidonate (20:4n‐6) was 1.5 times (p < 0.05) and that of docosa‐hexaenoate (22:6n‐3) was two times higher (p < 0.01) in preterm than in term milk. We conclude that in long‐term lactation, preterm human milk provides a significantly higher relative supply of LCP than term human milk. This higher LCP content may be of special benefit to the development of a preterm infant.

Need a simple solution for managing your BibTeX entries? Explore CiteDrive!

  • Web-based, modern reference management
  • Collaborate and share with fellow researchers
  • Integration with Overleaf
  • Comprehensive BibTeX/BibLaTeX support
  • Save articles and websites directly from your browser
  • Search for new articles from a database of tens of millions of references
Try out CiteDrive

More from our Archive