Total and sn-2 fatty acid profile of breast milk from women delivering preterm infants under the influence of maternal characteristics†
Data on the total fatty acid (FA) profile and position-specific triacylglycerides (TAGs) in preterm infants’ maternal milk are essential for establishing the recommended requirement of FA in preterm infants in China. We aimed to determine the composition and positional distribution of FAs in preterm infants’ maternal milk in China and further investigate the effect of maternal background on the FA composition. Breast milk samples (4, 11, 30, 60, and 90 (all ±3) days post-partum) were collected from 59 healthy women delivering preterm infants. The total and sn-2 milk FA composition was determined using gas chromatography. The multivariate statistical analysis showed significant differences in the FA profiles of milk with different lactation times, gestational ages and maternal ages. In particular, the content of linoleic and linolenic acid (ALA) was much higher, whereas the content of docosahexaenoic (DHA) and arachidonic acid were lower in the preterm milk from the Wuxi district than that from America and countries in Europe. The content of sn-2 polyunsaturated FAs (ALA: p = 0.013 and DHA: p = 0.003) were lower in the preterm colostrum from women aged over 30 years. Overall, these results suggest that the European and American standards of preterm formula may not be suitable for Chinese preterm infants, and polyunsaturated FA fortification in the maternal diet or preterm formula is needed for women with advanced age.