, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 863–869

Effect of fish oil on the fatty acid composition of human milk and maternal and infant erythrocytes

  • Robin A. Henderson
  • Robert G. Jensen
  • Carol J. Lammi-Keefe
  • Ann M. Ferris
  • Kenneth R. Dardick

DOI: 10.1007/BF02535865

Cite this article as:
Henderson, R.A., Jensen, R.G., Lammi-Keefe, C.J. et al. Lipids (1992) 27: 863. doi:10.1007/BF02535865


To examine the effect of fish oil supplementation on the fatty acid (FA) composition of human milk and maternal and infant erythrocytes, five lactating women were supplemented with 6 g of fish oil daily for 21d. Usual maternal diets contained 1,147 mg of total n−3 FA, with 120 mg from very long-chain (>C18) n−3 FA. Supplementation increased dietary levels to 3,092 mg of total n−3 FA and 2,006 mg of very long-chain n−3 FA. Milk samples were collected daily, prior to fish oil ingestion, and at 4-h intervals on days 1, 7, 14 and 21. Milk n−3 FA content increased within 8 h and reached steady state levels within one week. The n−6 fatty acid content decreased. Erythrocyte eicosapentaenoic acid content increased from 0.24% to 1.4% (P<0.01) in mothers and from 0.11% to 0.70% (P<0.05) in infants. Docosapentaenoic acid increased from 1.4% to 2.2% (P<0.05) in mothers and from 0.30% to 0.78% (P<0.01) in infants. There was no significant change in docosahexaenoic acid or n−6 fatty acid content. Maternal platelet aggregation responses were variable. No differences in milk or plasma tocopherol levels were noted.



adenosine phosphate


analysis of variance


docosahexaenoic acid


docosapentaenoic acid


eicosapentaenoic acid


fatty acid(s)


gas-liquid chromatography


high-pressure liquid chromatography


polyunsaturated/saturated ratio


recommended daily allowance


very long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid(s) (longer than C18)

Copyright information

© American Oil Chemists’ Society 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin A. Henderson
    • 2
  • Robert G. Jensen
    • 2
  • Carol J. Lammi-Keefe
    • 2
  • Ann M. Ferris
    • 2
  • Kenneth R. Dardick
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsJohns Hopkins HospitalBaltimore
  2. 2.Department of Nutritional Sciences, U-17University of ConnecticutStorrs
  3. 3.Mansfield Family PracticeMansfield Professional ParkStorrs