, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 941–948 | Cite as

Erythrocyte fatty acids of term infants fed either breast milk, standard formula, or formula supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturates

  • Maria Makrides
  • Mark A. Neumann
  • Karen Simmer
  • Robert A. Gibson


The purpose of our study was to assess whether a supplement of fish oil (FO) and evening primrose oil (EPO) for formula-fed infants was capable of avoiding reductions in erythrocyte docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22∶6n−3) and arachidonic acid (AA, 20∶4n−6) associated with standard formula feeding. Healthy, term infants, whose mothers chose to formula feed, were randomized to either a placebo or supplemented formula for their first 30 wk of life. A reference group of beast-fed infants also was enrolled. Erythrocyte fatty acids were measured by capillary gas chromatography on day 5 and in weeks 6, 16, and 30. Supplementation of formula with 0.36% of total fatty acids as DHA resulted in erythrocyte DHA being maintained at or above breast-fed levels for the entire 30-wk study period, and breast feeding (0.21% DHA) resulted in a modest fall in erythrocyte DHA relative to baseline (day 5) values. The level of erythrocyte DHA in placebo formula-fed infants was halved by week 16. AA levels decreased in all infants in the first six weeks, but the levels in breast- and placebo formula-fed infants increased with age and returned to approximate baseline (day 5) values by 16 and 30 wk of age, respectively. Erythrocyte AA in FO+EPO-supplemented infants remained low and below breast- and placebo formula-fed levels. Our data suggest that dietary supplementation with DHA at 0.36% total fatty acids results in erythrocyte DHA levels above those found in breast-fed infants. EPO supplementation was not effective at maintaining erythrocyte AA when given with FO.



arachidonic acid


α-linoleic acid


analysis of variance


dihomo-γ-linoleic acid


docosahexaenoic acid


eicosapentaenoic acid


evening primrose oil


fish oil


γ-linoleic acid


linoleic acid


long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids


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Copyright information

© American Oil Chemists’ Society 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Makrides
    • 1
  • Mark A. Neumann
    • 1
  • Karen Simmer
    • 1
  • Robert A. Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Paediatrics & Child HealthFlinders Medical CentreBedford Park (Adelaide)Australia

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