Sudden infant death syndrome: effect of breast and formula feeding on frontal cortex and brainstem lipid composition

J Paediatr Child Health. 1995 Feb;31(1):14-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.1995.tb02904.x.


Methodology: Docosahexaenoic acid levels were measured by gas chromatography in samples of frontal lobe and brainstem taken from 28 and 26 infants, respectively, who had died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Results: Significantly higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid were present in the frontal lobe tissues derived from the 13 breast fed infants (age range = 3.3-36.3 weeks; mean 15.9 +/- 11.3 weeks) compared to the 15 formula fed infants (age range = 6.9-47.7 weeks; mean 19.3 +/- 10.6 weeks); mean (+/- s.d.) levels were 8.5 +/- 1.1% and 7.6 +/- 0.8% of total fatty acids (P = 0.019). There was, however, no significant difference in brainstem docosahexaenoic acid levels between breast and formula fed infants.

Conclusions: Given these variable findings, further investigation of the relationship between dietary fatty acid intake and cerebral lipid levels may help to clarify whether different modes of feeding have a role in the pathogenesis of SIDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autopsy
  • Brain Stem / chemistry*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Milk, Human
  • Prefrontal Cortex / chemistry*
  • Sudden Infant Death*


  • Docosahexaenoic Acids