Comparison of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid content in human milk in preterm and term deliveries and its correlation with mothers’ diet

Ramin Iranpour, Roya Kelishadi, Sharareh Babaie, Kianoush Khosravi, Sanam Farajian


  • Background: Human milk (H-M) is a main food for infants, and phospholipids especially long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) play an essential role in the growth and brain development. This study was designed to evaluate the fatty acid composition in HM of mothers with preterm and full term newborns and to determine the relationships of dietary intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (A.A) of mothers and the content of these fatty acids in their milks.
  • Methods: The A.A and DHA of H-M were determined by gas chromatography at the third day after birth from mothers of 59 term and 58 preterm infants. Mothers were selected from those who delivered in Shahid Beheshti hospital, a referral teaching hospital affiliated to Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran. Dietary fat composition of mothers was examined by a food-frequency questionnaire. Total fat content, DHA and A.A of H-M were compared in both groups. The correlation of dietary DHA and A.A were determined with DHA and A.A of H-M in both groups.
  • Results: We found that maternal age, body mass index (BMI) and self- reported food- frequency questionnaire did not differ in two groups. In preterm and term groups, the mean A.A (0.19 ± 0.10 mg/ml and 0.16 ± 0.09 mg/ml, respectively), DHA (0.10 ± 0.06 mg/ml and 0.08 ± 0.05 mg/ml, respectively), and total fat content (2.58 ± 2.16 g/dl and 2.06 ± 1.22 g/dl respectively) of HM of mothers with preterm neonates were non-significantly higher than in mothers with term neonates. The percentage of DHA in the HM fat of preterm and term groups (0.45 ± 0.16% and 0.45 ± 0.18%, respectively) and the percentage of A.A (0.85 ± 0.26% and 0.84 ± 0.20%, respectively) were comparable with worldwide standards. No correlations were documented between DHA and A.A intake and DHA and A.A content of HM in both groups.
  • Conclusion: Although DHA and A.A content of HM in preterm group were higher than term group, but this differences were not significant. The percentage of DHA and A.A were acceptable in our region in the milk fat of mothers with term and preterm neonates.
  • Key words: Human milk, polyunsaturated fatty acids, premature neonate

Full Text: