The Essentiality of Eicosapentaenoic Acid in Breast Milk During Human Lactation

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-59745-330-1_9

ABSTRACT The case is described of a European woman in her thirties whose diet contained very little n-3 longchain polyunsaturated fatty
acids apart from an intake of one docosahexaenoic acid-enriched egg daily over the previous 6 yr. This enrichment process
was carried out by feeding hens a diet close to that of their wild ancestor, the Jungle Fowl, by including a wider range of
seeds and green vegetation than is normally the case in modern farming practice. During this period the subject had two full-term
normal pregnancies. Analyses of her breast milk during the postnatal periods have consistently shown that her milk was richer
in both eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6n-3) than average European human milk from lactating
women. This study demonstrates that it is ideal for lactating women to consume a dietary source of long-chain polyunsaturated
fatty acids from which they can provide both eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid for their baby. The study also
indicates that current average Western human milk is considerably lower in eicosapentaenoic acid than is optimal and we would
recommend further study in this area to define optimal fatty acid levels for lactating women based on a balanced source of
dietary lipids, rather than one based on a diet lacking in these fatty acids which we believe produces inadequate levels of
eicosapentaenoic acid in human milk.

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  • Progress in Lipid Research 01/2001; 40(1-2):1-94. DOI:10.1016/S0163-7827(00)00017-5 · 10.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Better understanding of the association between early life lipid intakes and the development of allergic diseases is needed. We prospectively studied breast milk content of n-6, n-3, and trans fatty acids in relation to allergic symptoms at the ages of 1 and 4 years. Fatty acid content was determined in breast milk samples of 265 (158 allergic and 107 nonallergic) mothers of children participating in the Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy study. Outcome variables studied were parental reported eczema at age 1 year, eczema at age 4 years, asthma at age 4 years, and, in a subgroup of 133 children, sensitization at age 4 years. In children of mothers with allergy, breast milk n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and the ratio between n-3 and n-6 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids were inversely associated with asthma and with persistent symptoms (eczema at age 1 year and eczema at age 4 years and/or asthma at age 4 years), but no associations between breast milk fatty acids and sensitization were observed. In children of mothers with allergy, also trans fatty acids tended to be inversely associated with allergic symptoms. In children of mothers without allergy, no associations between breast milk fatty acids and allergic symptoms were observed, but alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) was positively associated with sensitization. In susceptible infants, the risk to develop allergic symptoms, but not the risk of sensitization, was modified by intake of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids through breast milk.
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    Lipids 01/1996; 31(1):85-90. DOI:10.1007/BF02522416 · 1.85 Impact Factor

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