(n-3) PUFA, including DHA, are essential for neural development and accumulate extensively in the fetal and infant brain. (n-3) PUFA concentrations in breast milk, which are largely dependent on maternal diet and tissue stores, are correlated with infant PUFA status.

We investigated the effect of prenatal DHA supplementation on PUFA concentrations in breast milk at 1 mo postpartum. In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial conducted in Mexico, pregnant women were supplemented daily with 400 mg DHA or placebo from 18-22 wk gestation to parturition. Fatty acid concentrations in breast milk obtained from 174 women at 1 mo postpartum were determined using GLC and were expressed as % by weight of total detected fatty acids. Breast milk DHA concentrations in the DHA and placebo groups were (mean ± SD) 0.20 ± 0.06 and 0.17 ± 0.07 (P < 0.01), respectively, and those of α-linolenic acid (ALA) were 1.38 ± 0.47 and 1.24 ± 0.46 (P = 0.01), respectively. Concentrations of EPA and arachidonic acid did not differ between groups (P > 0.05). Maternal plasma DHA concentrations at 1 mo postpartum correlated positively with breast milk DHA at 1 mo postpartum in both the placebo and DHA groups (r = 0.4; P < 0.01 for both treatment groups). Prenatal DHA supplementation from 18-22 wk gestation to parturition increased concentrations of DHA and ALA in breast milk at 1 mo postpartum, providing a mechanism through which breast-fed infants could benefit.

Note: 400 mg DHA/d derived from an algal source (Martek Biosciences)

PMID: 21178076

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