Comparison of Human Milk Fatty Acid Composition of Women From Cambodia and Australia

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Human milk is a rich source of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are postulated to be important for brain development. There is a lack of data on the human milk fatty acid composition of Cambodian women compared with data from Western women.

Research Aim:

The aim of this study was to determine the human milk fatty acid composition of women living in Cambodia and compare it with that of women living in Australia.


Human milk samples from Cambodian (n = 67) and Australian (n = 200) mothers were collected at 3 to 4 months postpartum. Fatty acid composition was analyzed using capillary gas chromatography followed by Folch extraction with chloroform/methanol (2:1 v/v), and fat content was measured gravimetrically.


Compared with Australian participants, human milk from Cambodian participants contained a significantly lower level of total fat (2.90 vs. 3.45 g/dL, p = .028), lower percentages of linoleic acid (9.30% vs. 10.66%, p < .0001) and α-linolenic acid (0.42% vs. 0.95%, p < .0001), but higher percentages of arachidonic acid (0.68% vs. 0.38%, p < .0001) and docosahexaenoic acid (0.40% vs. 0.23%, p < .0001).


Differences in human milk fatty acid composition between Cambodian and Australian participants may be explained by differences in the dietary patterns between the two populations.

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