Our aim was perform an in-depth analysis of the composition of fatty acids in milk from mothers delivering extremely preterm babies. We investigated longitudinal changes in milk fatty acid profiles and the relationship between several types of fatty acids, including omega-3and omega-6.
Milk samples were collected at three stages of lactation from 78 mothers who delivered at less than 28 weeks of pregnancy at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, from April 2013 to September 2015. Fatty acid composition was analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
A reduction in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) was observed during the lactation period. The concentrations of arachidonic acid and docosahexaenoic acid declined from medians of 0.34 to 0.22 mol% and 0.29 to 0.15 mol%, respectively, between postnatal day seven and a post-menstrual age of 40 weeks. Strong correlations were found between the intermediates of several classes of fatty acids, including omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9.
A rapid reduction in LCPUFA content in the mother's milk during the lactation period emphasises the importance of fatty acid supplementation to infants born extremely preterm, at least during the period corresponding to the third trimester, when rapid development of the brain and adipose tissue require high levels of LCPUFAs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.