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Vol. 51, No. 6, 2007
Issue release date: February 2008
Ann Nutr Metab 2007;51:550–556

Systematic Review of Fatty Acid Composition of Human Milk from Mothers of Preterm Compared to Full-Term Infants

Bokor S. · Koletzko B. · Decsi T.
aDepartment of Paediatrics, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary; bDr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital, University of Munich, Munich, Germany

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Background: Fatty acid composition of human milk serves as guidance for the composition of infant formulae. The aim of the study was to systematically review data on the fatty acid composition of human milk of mothers of preterm compared to full-term infants. Methods: An electronic literature search was performed in English (Medline and Medscape) and German (SpringerLink) databases and via the Google utility. Fatty acid compositional data for preterm and full-term human milk were converted to differences between means and 95% confidence intervals. Results: We identified five relevant studies publishing direct comparison of fatty acid composition of preterm versus full-term human milk. There were no significant differences between the values of the principal saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. In three independent studies covering three different time points of lactation, however, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) values were significantly higher in milk of mothers of preterm as compared to those of full-term infants, with an extent of difference considered nutritionally relevant. Conclusion: Higher DHA values in preterm than in full-term human milk underlines the importance of using own mother’s milk for feeding preterm babies and raises the question whether DHA contents in preterm formulae should be higher than in formulae for full-term infants.

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