Aim: Our aim was to 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-3 and omega-6.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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 7 and a postmenstrual 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.
Conclusion: 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 requires high levels of LCPUFAs.
Keywords: Arachidonic acid; Docosahexaenoic acid; Extremely preterm infants; Human milk; Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
©2018 The Authors. Acta Paediatrica published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation Acta Paediatrica.