Salmon consumption during pregnancy alters fatty acid composition and secretory IgA concentration in human breast milk

J Nutr. 2012 Aug;142(8):1603-10. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.160804. Epub 2012 Jun 27.


Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy alters breast milk composition, but there is little information about the impact of oily fish consumption. We determined whether increased salmon consumption during pregnancy alters breast milk fatty acid composition and immune factors. Women (n = 123) who rarely ate oily fish were randomly assigned to consume their habitual diet or to consume 2 portions of farmed salmon per week from 20 wk of pregnancy until delivery. The salmon provided 3.45 g long-chain (LC) (n-3) PUFA/wk. Breast milk fatty acid composition and immune factors [soluble CD14, transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ)1, TGFβ2, and secretory IgA] were analyzed at 1, 5, 14, and 28 d postpartum (PP). Breast milk from the salmon group had higher proportions of EPA (80%), docosapentaenoic acid (30%), and DHA (90%) on d 5 PP compared with controls (P < 0.01). The LC (n-6) PUFA:LC (n-3) PUFA ratio was lower for the salmon group on all days of PP sampling (P ≤ 0.004), although individual (n-6) PUFA proportions, including arachidonic acid, did not differ. All breast milk immune factors decreased between d 1 and 28 PP (P < 0.001). Breast milk secretory IgA (sIgA) was lower in the salmon group (d 1-28 PP; P = 0.006). Salmon consumption during pregnancy, at the current recommended intakes, increases the LC (n-3) PUFA concentration of breast milk in early lactation, thus improving the supply of these important fatty acids to the breast-fed neonate. The consequence of the lower breast milk concentration of sIgA in the salmon group is not clear.

Trial registration: NCT00801502.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Diet
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / chemistry*
  • Immunoglobulin A / metabolism
  • Meat
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy
  • Salmon*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Immunoglobulin A

Associated data