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.
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.
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.
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.
Breast milk; Chinese women; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplements; polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs)