Breast milk n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and blood pressure: an individual participant meta-analysis

Eur J Nutr. 2021 Mar;60(2):989-998. doi: 10.1007/s00394-020-02310-4. Epub 2020 Jun 20.


Purpose: It is controversial whether a higher intake of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LC PUFA) through breastfeeding is associated or not to a lower blood pressure (BP) during childhood. We aimed to clarify this point by undertaking a meta-analysis involving the data from seven European birth cohorts.

Methods: We searched for studies that had collected breast milk samples, and had at least one BP measurement in childhood. Principal investigators were contacted, and all agreed to share data. One additional study was identified by contacts with the principal investigators. For each cohort, we analyzed the association of breast milk n-3 LC PUFAs with systolic and diastolic BP with linear mixed effects models or linear regression, and pooled the estimates with a random effects model. We also investigated age-specific and sex-specific associations.

Results: A total of 2188 participants from 7 cohorts were included. Overall, no associations between breast milk n-3 LC PUFAs and BP were observed. In the pooled analysis, each 0.1 wt% increment in breast milk docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with a 1.19 (95% CI - 3.31, 0.94) mmHg lower systolic BP. Associations were similar for boys and girls and at different ages.

Conclusion: In this individual participant meta-analysis, we found no evidence for an association between breast milk n-3 LC PUFAs and BP.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Breastfeeding; Children; Fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure
  • Breast Feeding
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Milk, Human*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids