N-3 and n-6 fatty acid delivery into human milk in the first month postpartum

Relationship between polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in maternal diets and human milk in the first month post-partum

Liu et al., JHND Early View


The present study evaluated the relationship between dietary fatty acid (FA) intakes and human milk FA levels.


Healthy lactating women (n = 514) from Northern China participated in the study. Dietary intake was assessed with a 24-h dietary recall questionnaire and evaluated using golden key maternal nutrition software (Wincome, Shanghai, China) and China Food Composition2009. Human milk FA composition was determined by gas chromatography.


The maternal daily median intakes of linoleic acid (LA), α-linolenic acid (ALA) and arachidonic acid (AA) were 19.93 g, 3.08 g and 16.33 mg, respectively. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intakes were below the recommended levels. FA levels in 100 g of human milk were 0.363 g LA, 0.038 g γ-linolenic acid (GLA), 0.052 g dihomo γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), 0.144 g ALA, 0.079 g AA, 0.007 g EPA, 0.018 g docosatetraenoic acid (DTA) and 0.048 g DHA. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that human milk DGLA levels were negatively correlated with dietary LA intake (β = −0.223, P = 0.030), and human milk GLA and DTA levels were negatively correlated with dietary ALA intake (β = −2.189, P = 0.031; β = −2.252, P = 0.027) after adjusting for possible confounding factors.


The results of the present study suggest the presence of competitive interactions between n-3 fatty acids (ALA) and n-6 fatty acids (GLA and DTA).

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