The consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids has changed, and the prevalence of adiposity has increased over the past 30 y. A decrease of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in breast milk has been suggested to be a contributing factor. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content and n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio in breast milk, body composition, and timing of adiposity rebound in children.
In the Copenhagen Prospective Study on Asthma in Childhood birth cohort, breast milk fatty acid profile was determined in 281 mothers and BMI development was prospectively followed up to the age of 7 y in 222 children. Age and BMI at adiposity rebound were registered. Furthermore, fat mass determination by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry was performed in 207 children at 6-9 y of age.
There was a significant association between breast milk DHA and BMI from 2 to 7 y, fat mass, and, for the girls, age at adiposity rebound. No associations were found between the breast milk n-6/n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio and body composition.
Early intake of DHA may have an effect on body composition. Dietary habits of lactating mothers could contribute to the increased prevalence of obesity in Western societies.