Breastmilk PUFA strongly associated with maternal dietary intake but not anthropometric parameters and breastmilk carotenoids

Published:October 09, 2022DOI:


      • High levels of DHA and DGLA and low AA were observed compared to other studies.
      • Results of PCA showed the greatest similarity to FA profile in UK and Latvia.
      • Intake of PUFA and n-6/n-3 ratios were a good predictor of its breastmilk level.
      • Pre-pregnancy and current BMI, and breastmilk carotenoids had a limited influence.



      Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and the optimal n-6/n-3 fatty acids ratio are essential for proper neurodevelopment in infancy. This study aimed to evaluate the association between breastmilk fatty acid intake and maternal dietary intake, anthropometrics and breastmilk carotenoid levels.


      This observational, prospective study included 44 women in the first, third, and sixth month of lactation. At each study visit, maternal anthropometric measures were assessed and breastmilk samples were collected and assessed for fatty acids and carotenoids. At the third and sixth month, maternal diet was evaluated by three-day foods record.


      Mean breastmilk docosahexaenoic (DHA) was 0.58%, 0.47%, and 0.49%, respectively at the 1, 3, and 6 month (p ≤ 0.05). Mean DHA intake were higher in month 3 compared to 6: 357 vs. 169 mg/day. Pre-pregnancy BMI was associated with SFA, PUFA, and n-6 PUFA at 1 month, whereas current BMI to SFA at months 1 and 3. DHA was correlated with lycopene, total carotenoids at 1 month and total carotenoids at month 3, whereas n-3 PUFA to lycopene at 1 month. DHA, n-3 PUFA, n-6 PUFA and saturated (SFA) levels were associated with its dietary intake both at months 3 and 6, AA/DHA and LA/ALA ratios only at month 3.


      Maternal intake of PUFA and n-6/n-3 ratios were a good predictor of its breastmilk composition, whereas pre-pregnancy and current BMI, as well as breastmilk carotenoids had a limited influence.


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