Dairy Science & Technology

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 287–301 | Cite as

Relationship between Mediterranean diet and breast milk fatty acid profile: a study in breastfeeding women in Croatia

  • Greta KrešićEmail author
  • Mihela Dujmović
  • Milena L. Mandić
  • Ivančica Delaš
Original Paper


The composition of breast milk secreted by Mediterranean women is still under-investigated. Due to the specific Mediterranean diet, the fatty acid profile of such milk could be distinctive. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between maternal diet and fatty acid profile of the mature milk obtained from 83 breastfeeding women residing in the coastal Croatia, lactating for 5–25 weeks. Their diet was evaluated using two consecutive 24-h recalls, while the fatty acid milk content was determined using gas chromatography. Among the dietary intake of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated dietary fatty acids, the most represented were palmitic (21.70−1), oleic (29.20−1) and linoleic acid (13.81−1), with the ratio of total dietary n−6/n−3 fatty acids of 12.01. In milk, the most represented primary monounsaturated fatty acid was oleic acid (39.63%), while the most represented saturated fatty acid was palmitic acid (20.65%). The share of linoleic, α-linolenic and docosahexaenoic fatty acid was 17.28%, 1.41% and 0.21%, respectively. The correlation between dietary fatty acids and their breast milk concentrations was established for docosahexaenoic (r = 0.54, P < 0.001), linoleic (r = 0.24, P = 0.032), palmitic (r = 0.18, P = 0.021) and oleic acid (r = 0.21, P = 0.024). In conclusion, the issue of concern is the sub-optimal dietary intake of n−3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, resulting in their low breast milk concentrations, especially that of docosahexaenoic acid. Given its biological importance, the impact of fatty acid profile on infant health should be further investigated.


Dietary intake Fatty acids Breast milk Breastfeeding women 



Sincere thanks to all the women who have participated in this study. Thanks to Ms Ana Čačić her for skilful technical assistance. This research was conducted as a part of the national project Nutrition and lifestyle in health protection (No. 113-0000000-0548) financed by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia. No conflicts of interest have been declared by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Greta Krešić
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mihela Dujmović
    • 1
  • Milena L. Mandić
    • 2
  • Ivančica Delaš
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Department of Food and NutritionUniversity of RijekaOpatijaCroatia
  2. 2.Faculty of Food Technology, Department of Food and Nutrition ResearchUniversity of OsijekOsijekCroatia
  3. 3.School of Medicine, Department of Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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