, Volume 32, Issue 10, pp 1061–1067 | Cite as

Breast milk fatty acid composition: A comparative study between Hong Kong and Chongqing Chinese

  • Z. Y. Chen
  • K. Y. Kwan
  • K. K. Tong
  • W. M. N. Ratnayake
  • H. Q. Li
  • S. S. F. Leung


The fatty acids of milk samples obtained from 51 Hong Kong Chinese and 33 Chongqing Chinese (Si Chuan Province, China) were analyzed by gas-liquid chromatography. Compared with those of published data for Canadian and other Western countries, the Chinese milk from both Hong Kong and Chongqing contained higher levels of longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3) and arachidonic acid (20:4n-6). In contrast, the content of trans fatty acids in the Chinese milk was lower compared with those for Canadian and other Western countries. Longitudinally, the concentrations of 22:6n-3 and 20:4n-6 gradually decreased when lactation progressed from colostrum (week 1) to mature (week 6). Over the same interval, linoleic acid (18:2n-6) remained unchanged in Chongqing Chinese but significantly increased in Hong Kong Chinese. Unlike 18:2n-6, linolenic acid (18:3n-3) increased in Chongqing Chinese but remained unchanged in Hong Kong Chinese throughout the study. The total milk fat also increased with the duration of lactation. In addition, the milk of Chongqing Chinese had higher total milk fat than that of Hong Kong Chinese and Canadians. The content of erucic acid (22:1n-9) increased with the progression of lactation in Chongqing Chinese, indicating that there was a switch in dietary consumption from fats of animal origin to rapeseed oil when lactation reached week 6. The present study showed that Hong Kong and Chongqing Chinese had a different fatty acid profile in many ways, which largely reflected a different dietary habit and life-style in these two places.



longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA, docosahexaenoic acid


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Innis, S.M. (1991) Essential Fatty Acids in Growth and Development, Prog. Lipid Res. 30, 39–103.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Carlson, S.E., Rhodes, P.G., and Ferguson, M.G. (1986) Docosahexaenoic Acid Status of Preterm Infants at Birth and Following Feeding with Human Milk and Formula, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 44, 798–804.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Birch, E.E., Birch, D.G., Hoffman, D.R., And Uauy, R. (1992) Retinal Development in Very-Low-Birth-Weight Infants Fed Diets Differing in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Invest Opthalm. & Visual Sci. 33, 2365–2376.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Daemen, F.J. (1973) Vertebrate Rod Outer Segment Membrane, Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 300, 255–288.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Svennerholm, L. (1968) Distribution and Fatty Acid Composition of Phosphoglycerides in Normal Human Brain, J. Lipid Res. 9, 570–579.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gibson, R.A. (1992) What Is the Best Fatty Acid Composition for the Fats of Infant Formulas, in Essential Fatty Acids and Eicosanoids, (Sinclair, A.J., and Gibson, R.A., eds.), pp. 210–213, American Oil Chemists' Society, Champaign.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Yonekubo, A., Honda, S., Takahashi, T., and Yamamoto, Y. (1992) Physiological Role of Docosahexaenoic Acid in Mother's Milk and Infant Formula, in Essential Fatty Acids and Eicosanoids, (Sinclair, A.J., and Gibson, R.A., eds.), pp. 214–217, American Oil Chemists' Society, Champaign.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Carlson, S.E., Werkman, S.H., Peeles, J.M., Cooke, R.J., Tolly, E.A., and Wilson, W.M. (1992) Growth and Development of Very Low-Birthweight Infants in Relation to n-3 and n-6 Essential Fatty Acid Status, in Essential Fatty Acids and Eicosanoids, (Sinclair, A.J., and Gibson, R.A., eds.), pp. 192–196, American Oil Chemists' Society, Champaign.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Innis, S.M. (1992) Effect of Different Milk or Formula Diets on Brain, Liver and Blood ω-6 and ω-3 Fatty Acids, in Essential Fatty Acids and Eicosanoids (Sinclair, A.J., and Gibson, R.A., eds), pp. 183–191, American Oil Chemists' Society, Champaign.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Uauy, R., Birch, D., Birch, E., Hoffman, D., and Tyson, J. (1992) Effect of Dietary Essential ω-3 Fatty Acids on Retinal and Brain Development in Premature Infants, in Essential Fatty Acids And Eicosanoids (Sinclair, A.J., and Gibson, R.A. eds.), pp. 197–202, American Oil Chemists' Society, Champaign.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Uauy, R.D., Birch, D.G., Birch, E.E., Tyson, J.E., and Hoffman, D.R. (1990) Effect of Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Retinal Function of Very-Low-Birth-Weight Neonates, Pediatr. Res. 28, 485–492.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Birch, D.G., Birch, E.E., Hoffman, D.R., and Uauy, R.D. (1992) Dietary Essential Fatty Acid Supply and Visual Acuity Development, Invest. Opthalmol. Visual Sci. 33, 3242–3253.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chen, Z.Y., Pelletier, G., Hollywood, R., and Ratnayake, W.M.N. (1994) Trans Fatty Isomers in Canadian Human Milk, Lipids 30, 15–21.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jensen, R.G. (1996) The Lipids in Human Milk, Prog. Lipid Res. 35, 53–91.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chardigney, J.M., Wolff, R.L., Mager, E., Sébédio, J.-L., Martine, L., and Juaneda, P. (1995) Trans Mono- and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Human Milk, Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 49, 523–531.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wolff, R.L. (1995) Content and Distribution of trans-18:1 Acids in Ruminant Milk and Meat Fats. Their Importance in European Diets and Their Effect on Human Milk, J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 72, 259–272.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Waterlow, J.C., Ashworth, A., and Griffiths, M. (1980) Faltering in Infant Growth in Less-Developed Countries, Lancet 2, 1176–1178.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Gibson, R.A., and Kneebone, G.M. (1981) Fatty Acid Composition of Human Colostrum and Mature Milk, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 34, 252–257.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Bitman, J., Wood, L., Hamosh, M., Hamosh, P., and Mehta, N.R. (1983) Comparison of the Lipid Composition of Milk from Mothers of Term and Preterm Infants, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 38, 300–312.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Koletzko, B., Mrotzek, M., and Brener, H.J. (1988) Fatty Acid Composition of Mature Human Milk in Germany, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 47, 954–959.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Martin, J.C., Bougnoux, P., Fignon, A., Theret, V., Antoine, J.M., Lamisse, F., and Couet, C. (1993) Dependence of Human Milk Essential Fatty Acids on Adipose Stores During Lactation, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 58, 653–659.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Prentice, A., Prentice, A.M., and Whitehead, R.G. (1981) Milk Fat Concentrations of Rural African Women 1. Short-Term Variations Within Individuals, Br. J. Nutr. 45, 483–494.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rowland, M.G.M., Paul, A.A., and Whitehead, R.G. (1981) Lactation and Infant Nutrition, Br. Med. Bull. 377, 77–82.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Chulei, R., Xiaofing, L., Hongsheng, M., Xiulan, M., Guizheng, L., Gianhong, D., Defrancesco, C.A., and Connor, W.E. (1995) Milk Composition in Women from Five Different Regions of China: The Great Diversity of Milk Fatty Acids, J. Nutr. 125, 2992–2998.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Makrides, M., Simmer, K., Neumann, M., and Gibson, R. (1995) Changes in the Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids of Milk from Mothers of Full-Term Infants Over 30 wk of Lactation, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 61, 1231–1233.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Harzer, G., Haug, M., Dieterich, I., and Gentner, P.R. (1983) Changing Patterns of Human Milk Lipids in the Course of the Lactation and During the Day, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 37, 612–621.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Finley, D.A., Lonnerdal, B., Dewey, K.G., and Grivetti, L.E. (1985) Milk Composition: Fat Content and Fatty Acid Composition in Vegetarians and Nonvegetarians, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 41, 787–800.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Koletzko, B., Thiel, I., and Abiodun, P.O. (1992) The Fatty Acid Composition of Human Milk in Europe and Africa, J. Pediatr. 20, 562–570.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kneebone, G.M., and Gibson, R.A. (1985) Fatty Acid Composition of Milk from Three Racial Groups from Penang, Malaysia, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 41, 765–769.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Simopoulos, A.P., and Salem, N. (1992) Egg Yolk as a Source of Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Infant Feeding, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 55, 411–414.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Koletzko, B. (1992) Trans Fatty Acids May Impair Biosynthesis of Long-Chain Polyunsaturates and Growth in Man, Acta Paediatr. 81, 302–306.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Mann, N.J., Johnson, L.G., Warrick, G.E., and Sinclair, A.J. (1995) The Arachidonic Acid Content of the Australian Diet Is Lower Than Previously Estimated, J. Nutr. 125, 2528–2535.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Mantzioris, E., James, M.J., Gibson, R.A., and Cleland, L.G. (1995) Differences Exist in the Relationships Between Dietary Linoleic Acid and α-Linolenic Acids and Their Respective Long-Chain Metabolites, Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 61, 320–324.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Makrides, M., Neumann, M.A., and Gibson, R.A. (1996) Effect of Maternal Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Supplementation on Breast Milk Composition, Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 50, 352–357.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Sanders, T.A.B., and Reddy, S. (1992) The Influence of a Vegetarian Diet on the Fatty Acid Composition of Human Milk and the Essential Fatty Acid Status of the Infant, J. Pediatr. 120, S71-S77.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Clark, R.M., Ferries, A.M., Fey, M., Brown, P.B., Hundrieser, E.G., and Jensen, R.G. (1982) Changes in the Lipids of Human Milk from 2 to 16 Weeks Postpartum, J. Pediatr. Gastroenterol. Nutr. 1, 311–315.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© AOCS Press 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Z. Y. Chen
    • 1
  • K. Y. Kwan
    • 1
  • K. K. Tong
    • 1
  • W. M. N. Ratnayake
    • 3
  • H. Q. Li
    • 4
  • S. S. F. Leung
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryThe Chinese University of Hong KongNew TerritoriesHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of PaediatricsThe Chinese University of Hong KongNew TerritoriesHong Kong
  3. 3.Nutrition Research Division, Health Protection BranchHealth CanadaTunney's PastureCanada
  4. 4.University of Chongqing Medical SciencesChongqingChina

Personalised recommendations