actual human milk fatty acid composition in different populations - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 12-17-2003, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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What is this article trying to say?

I thought the quality of the milk was not affected unless the mother was severly malnourished.
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#2 of 5 Old 12-18-2003, 12:49 AM
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Try this link:

Apparently the article summarized in the link you were examining was a comment on this one?

It sounds like (caveat: not a scientist!) the experimenters were trying to find a standard relationship between fatty acids in breast milk. They took a lot of samples (455 from different countries.) The ways the fatty acids linked in the breastmilk samples were all different. The formula samples they compared the breast milk to had different chains of fatty acids.

Basically, the researchers were trying to figure out how to make an artificial breastmilk in which the fatty acids are as similar as possible to breastmilk, but they can't. They say, "oh, it's because we were basing our formula on Western women's breastmilk." but they don't know that. What this seems to show is that the fats in breastmilk don't have predictable fatty acid chains.

If I'm reading it right, and who knows if I am, it seems to say that they can't get a formula to be exactly like breastmilk!

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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#3 of 5 Old 12-18-2003, 12:50 AM
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If I read it correctly, it's saying that everyone's milk is different, because it is taylored to their particularly baby, therefore basing infant formula on one particular person's milk is not the best way to make formula with the "ideal" fat content.

ETA: I think I was summarizing the comment. I think C.O. is right on.
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#4 of 5 Old 12-18-2003, 04:40 PM
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Fascinating article.

Yes, the first abstract posted was a commentary on a study. Some journals will have a leader in a similar field write a short commentary highlighting the results of the study. Good thing, too, since that must have been the most convoluted abstract and paper I've ever read.

From the commentary (by C. Agostoni) of the main study (Smit EN et al., Fatty acids in formulae for term infants: compliance of present recommendations with the actual human milk fatty acid composition of geographically different populations, ACTA PAEDIATRICA, 92 (7): 790-796, 2003.):

"On the whole, the entire fatty acid profile of human milk is a "concerto", reflecting the quality of the exogenous fat intake, the endogenous synthesis in the case of carbohydrate-rich diets and the individual genetic "disposition" towards utilizing, storing and/or synthesizing specific fatty acids. Human milk samples largely differ also as far as their absolute fat content is concerned. Finally, each breastfed infant has a unique fat intake, both quantitatively and qualitatively, differing by time of lactation, maternal diet, mothers' genetic inheritance, culture and country. This is just one of the best examples of the non-reproducibility of human milk."

[Any typos are mine.]

The paper itself actually draws conclusions to the effect that the ethnic background of the mother makes a difference in the milk composition. Never knew that.
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#5 of 5 Old 12-19-2003, 03:17 AM
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Sounds like they are trying to improve the formula fatty acid balance. It has been known that the fatty acid composition of human milk varies according to what kind of fats the mother eats. Your diet certainly affects the kind of fats your breast milk has, and unfortunately many western women have a large amount of trans fats in their breast milk, because they themselves eat quite a bit of it in margarine, hydrogenated oils, and fried foods. It has been shown that at least in animals, trans fats ingested do end up in the membranes of the brain cells, which basically makes the brain cells less 'flexible' or less able to function effectively.

The brain building fats are omega-3 fats, especially DHA. If you don't eat the right things, your breast milk does not have much DHA. A single oily fish meal though boosts the DHA content of breast milk almost immediately. Flax seed or flax oil and oily fish (mercury-free though) should be in every pregnant and lactating woman's diet. Baby pulls so much DHA out of the mother during the latter part of pregnancy when the brain grows so much that if the diet is not adequate, many end up with post-partum depression. DHA is a brain fat. its presence in breast milk makes babies more intelligent than formula-fed ones. But American breastfed babies might be at an disadvantage compared to moms in poorer countries because the latter eat more nuts seeds and fish, and not margarine.

see also

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