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      Temporal Changes in Breast Milk Fatty Acids Contents: A Case Study of Malay Breastfeeding Women


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          The composition of human breast milk changes in the first two months of life, adapting itself to the evolving needs of the growing new-born. Lipids in milk are a source of energy, essential fatty acids (FA), fat-soluble vitamins, and vital bioactive components. Information on breast milk FA of Malaysian lactating women is scarce. Based on convenience sampling, a total of 20 Malay breastfeeding women who fulfilled the inclusion criteria were recruited. Breast milk was collected three times from each subject at consecutive intervals of 2–3 weeks apart. A total of 60 breast milk samples were collected and classified into “transitional milk” ( n = 8), “early milk” ( n = 26) and “mature milk” ( n = 26). All milk samples were air freighted to University of Groningen, Netherlands for analysis. The dominant breast milk FA were oleic acid, constituting 33% of total fatty acids, followed by palmitic acid (26%). Both these FA and the essential FA, linoleic acid (10%) and alpha-linolenic acid (0.4%), showed no significant changes from transitional to mature milk. Breast milk ratio of n-6:n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) was comparatively high, exceeding 10 throughout the lactation period, suggesting a healthier balance of PUFA intake is needed in pregnancy and at postpartum.

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          Human milk composition: nutrients and bioactive factors.

          This article provides an overview of the composition of human milk, its variation, and its clinical relevance. The composition of human milk is the biological norm for infant nutrition. Human milk also contains many hundreds to thousands of distinct bioactive molecules that protect against infection and inflammation and contribute to immune maturation, organ development, and healthy microbial colonization. Some of these molecules (eg, lactoferrin) are being investigated as novel therapeutic agents. Human milk changes in composition from colostrum to late lactation, within feeds, by gestational age, diurnally, and between mothers. Feeding infants with expressed human milk is increasing. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain.

            The omega-3 fatty acids are essential dietary nutrients and one of their important roles is providing the fatty acid with 22 carbons and 6 double bonds known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for nervous tissue growth and function. Inadequate intakes of omega-3 fatty acids decrease DHA and increase omega-6 fatty acids in the brain. Decreased DHA in the developing brain leads to deficits in neurogenesis, neurotransmitter metabolism, and altered learning and visual function in animals. Western diets are low in omega-3 fatty acids, including the 18 carbon omega-3 fatty acid alpha linolenic acid found mainly in plant oils, and DHA, which is found mainly in fish. The DHA status of the newborn and breast-fed infant depends on the maternal intake of DHA and varies widely. Epidemiological studies have linked low maternal DHA to increased risk of poor child neural development. Intervention studies have shown improving maternal DHA nutrition decreases the risk of poor infant and child visual and neural development. Thus, sufficient evidence is available to conclude that maternal fatty acid nutrition is important to DHA transfer to the infant before and after birth, with short and long-term implications for neural function. However, genetic variation in genes encoding fatty acid desaturases also influence essential fatty acid metabolism, and may increase requirements in some individuals. Consideration of omega-3 fatty acid to include brain development, optimizing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in gestation and lactation, and in fatty acid nutrition support for intravenous and formula-fed neonates is important.
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              Human Milk Lipids

              Human milk lipids provide the infant with energy and essential vitamins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and bioactive components. Adding complex lipids and milk fat globule membranes to vegetable oil-based infant formula has the potential to enhance infant development and reduce infections. Cholesterol provision with breastfeeding modulates infant sterol metabolism and may induce long-term benefits. Some 98-99% of milk lipids are comprised by triacylglycerols, whose properties depend on incorporated fatty acids. Attention has been devoted to the roles of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids docosahexaenoic (DHA) and arachidonic (ARA) acids. Recent studies on gene-diet interaction (Mendelian randomization) show that breastfeeding providing DHA and ARA improves cognitive development and reduces asthma risk at school age particularly in those children with a genetically determined lower activity of DHA and ARA synthesis. It appears prudent to follow the biological model of human milk in the design of infant formula as far as feasible, unless conclusive evidence for the suitability and safety of other choices is available. The recent European Union legislative stipulation of a high formula DHA content without required ARA deviates from this concept, and such a novel formula composition has not been adequately evaluated. Great future opportunities arise with significant methodological progress for example in lipidomic analyses and their bioinformatic evaluation, which should enhance understanding of the biology of human milk lipids. Such knowledge might lead to improved dietary advice to lactating mothers as well as to further opportunities to enhance infant formula composition.

                Author and article information

                30 December 2020
                January 2021
                : 13
                : 1
                : 101
                [1 ]Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, School of Health Sciences, International Medical University, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; seokshin83@ 123456gmail.com (S.S.T.); drtonyngkw@ 123456gmail.com (K.W.T.N.)
                [2 ]Laboratory Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen and University of Groningen, 9713 GZ Groningen, The Netherlands; e.stoutjesdijk@ 123456umcg.nl (E.S.); d.a.j.dijck@ 123456umcg.nl (D.A.J.D.-B.); f.a.j.muskiet@ 123456umcg.nl (F.A.J.M.)
                [3 ]FrieslandCampina, 3800 BN Amersfoort, The Netherlands; Ilse.Tan-Khouw@ 123456frieslandcampina.com (I.K.); Marjolijn.Bragt@ 123456frieslandcampina.com (M.B.); Anne.Schaafsma@ 123456frieslandcampina.com (A.S.)
                Author notes
                Author information
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                : 29 October 2020
                : 21 December 2020

                Nutrition & Dietetics
                breast milk fatty acids,temporal changes,maternal dietary intake,postpartum


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