Effect of DHA supplements during pregnancy on the concentration of PUFA in breast milk of Chinese lactating mothers

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine whether there is an effect of prenatal supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on the concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the breast milk of Chinese lactating women.

Methods:

A total of 409 participants were recruited at the postpartum care center during their 1-month postpartum care. They were assigned to the supplement group or the control group according to whether or not DHA supplements were taken during pregnancy. Dietary intake was assessed with a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Breast milk samples were collected on 1 day between the 22nd and 25th day postpartum and levels of eight kinds of fatty acids in the breast milk were measured by gas chromatography.

Results:

DHA intake was divided into three levels (<57 mg/day, 57-185 mg/day and >185 mg/day). The concentration of DHA postpartum in the breast milk of the group receiving a DHA supplement >185 mg/day was significantly higher (P=0.003) compared to the control group.

Conclusions:

DHA intake >185 mg/day resulted in increased DHA concentrations in breast milk. This finding suggests that mothers with inadequate dietary intake of DHA should change their dietary habits to consume a diet rich in DHA or take sufficient DHA supplements to meet the average nutritional needs of infants.

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