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Nutrients 2017, 9(9), 1034; doi:10.3390/nu9091034

Changes in Fatty Acid Composition of Human Milk in Response to Cold-Like Symptoms in the Lactating Mother and Infant

1
School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
2
School of Health and Sciences, The University of Notre Dame Australia, 32 Mouat Street, Fremantle, WA 6959, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 July 2017 / Revised: 11 September 2017 / Accepted: 14 September 2017 / Published: 19 September 2017
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Abstract

Infants rely on their innate immune systems to protect them from infection. Human milk (HM) contains fatty acids (FAs) and monoacylglycerols that are known to exhibit antiviral and antibacterial properties in vitro. The specific fat content of HM may potentially affect the efficacy of this antimicrobial activity. This preliminary study investigates whether the proportions of FA in HM change in response to infections, leading to cold-like symptoms in the mother or infant. Milk samples were obtained from mothers (n = 26) when they and their infants were healthy, and when mother, infant, or both suffered cold-like symptoms. The milk was hydrolysed and FA proportions were measured using gas chromatography. Fifteen FAs were recorded, of which eight were detected in sufficient quantities for statistical analysis. The proportions of capric (C10:0) and lauric acids (C12:0) in HM were significantly lower, and palmitic acid (C16:0) was higher when mothers and infants were ill compared to healthy samples. Palmitoleic (C16:1, n-7) and stearic acid (C18:0) proportions were higher in HM when the infant was unwell, but were not related to maternal health. Whilst the differences detected were small (less than 0.5%), the effects may be additive and potentially have a protective function. The value of further studies is certainly indicated. View Full-Text
Keywords: human milk; breastfeeding; fatty acids human milk; breastfeeding; fatty acids
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gardner, A.S.; Rahman, I.A.; Lai, C.T.; Hepworth, A.; Trengove, N.; Hartmann, P.E.; Geddes, D.T. Changes in Fatty Acid Composition of Human Milk in Response to Cold-Like Symptoms in the Lactating Mother and Infant. Nutrients 2017, 9, 1034.

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