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

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Abstract

Background:

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.

Method:

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.

Result:

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).

Conclusion:

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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