, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 245–251 | Cite as

Trans Fatty Acids in Human Milk are an Indicator of Different Maternal Dietary Sources Containing Trans Fatty Acids

  • A. Mueller
  • C. Thijs
  • L. Rist
  • A. P. Simões-Wüst
  • M. Huber
  • H. Steinhart
Original Article


The trans fatty acid (TFA) patterns in the fats of ruminant meat and dairy products differ from those found in other (processed) fats. We have evaluated different TFA isomers in human breast milk as an indicator of dietary intake of ruminant and dairy fats of different origins. Breast milk samples were collected 1 month postpartum from 310 mothers participating in the KOALA Birth Cohort Study (The Netherlands). The study participants had different lifestyles and consumed different amounts of dairy products. Fatty acid methyl esters were determined by GC-FID and the data were evaluated by principal component analysis (PCA), ANOVA/Post Hoc test and linear regression analysis. The two major principal components were (1) 18:1 trans-isomers and (2) markers of dairy fat including 15:0, 17:0, 11(trans)18:1 and 9(cis),11(trans)18:2 (CLA). Despite similar total TFA values, the 9(trans)18:1/11(trans)18:1-ratio and the 10(trans)18:1/11(trans)18:1-ratio were significantly lower in milk from mothers with high dairy fat intake (40–76 g/day: 0.91 ± 0.48, P < 0.05) compared to low dairy fat intake (0–10 g/day: 1.59 ± 0.48), and lower with strict organic meat and dairy use (>90% organic: 0.92 ± 0.46, P < 0.05) compared to conventional origin of meat and dairy (1.40 ± 0.61). Similar results were obtained for the 10(trans)18:1/11(trans)18:1-ratio. We conclude that both ratios are indicators of different intake of TFA from ruminant and dairy origin relative to other (including industrial) sources.


Trans fatty acids Vaccenic acid Conjugated linoleic acid Human milk Partially hydrogenated fats 



trans fatty acids


Essential fatty acids


Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils


Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids


Food frequency questionnaire


Meat and/or dairy of organic origin


Principal component analysis


Saturated fatty acids


Monounsaturated fatty acids


Conjugated linoleic acid isomer



This study was financially supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw, the Netherlands), Royal Friesland Foods (the Netherlands), Triodos Foundation (the Netherlands), UDEA organic retail (the Netherlands), Biologica organisation for organic farming and food (The Netherlands), the Consumer Association for Bio-Dynamic Agriculture Zurich (Switzerland), and Johannes Keyenbühl Academy (Switzerland).


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Copyright information

© AOCS 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Mueller
    • 1
  • C. Thijs
    • 2
  • L. Rist
    • 3
  • A. P. Simões-Wüst
    • 3
  • M. Huber
    • 4
  • H. Steinhart
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Chemistry, Institute of Biochemistry and Food ChemistryUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyMaastricht University, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary CareMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Research DepartmentParacelsus Hospital RichterswilRichterswilSwitzerland
  4. 4.Louis Bolk InstituteDriebergenThe Netherlands

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