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Open AccessArticle

Human Milk Omega-3 Fatty Acid Composition is Associated with Infant Temperament

1
University of California, Merced, 5200 North Lake Rd, Merced, CA 95343, Canada
2
Chapman University, Orange, CA 92866, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(12), 2964; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11122964
Received: 15 October 2019 / Revised: 21 November 2019 / Accepted: 27 November 2019 / Published: 4 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Breastfeeding: Short and Long-Term Benefits to Baby and Mother)
There is growing evidence that omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty-acids (PUFAs) are important for the brain development in childhood and are necessary for an optimal health in adults. However, there have been no studies examining how the n-3 PUFA composition of human milk influences infant behavior or temperament. To fill this knowledge gap, 52 breastfeeding mothers provided milk samples at 3 months postpartum and completed the Infant Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ-R), a widely used parent-report measure of infant temperament. Milk was assessed for n-3 PUFAs and omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs using gas-liquid chromatography. The total fat and the ratio of n-6/n-3 fatty acids in milk were also examined. Linear regression models revealed that infants whose mothers’ milk was richer in n-3 PUFAs had lower scores on the negative affectivity domain of the IBQ-R, a component of temperament associated with a risk for internalizing disorders later in life. These associations remained statistically significant after considering covariates, including maternal age, marital status, and infant birth weight. The n-6 PUFAs, n-6/n-3 ratio, and total fat of milk were not associated with infant temperament. These results suggest that mothers may have the ability to shape the behavior of their offspring by adjusting the n-3 PUFA composition of their milk.
Keywords: breastfeeding; breast milk; temperament; fatty acids; LC-PUFA; omega-3; omega-6; DHA; AA; children; early life nutrition breastfeeding; breast milk; temperament; fatty acids; LC-PUFA; omega-3; omega-6; DHA; AA; children; early life nutrition
MDPI and ACS Style

Hahn-Holbrook, J.; Fish, A.; Glynn, L.M. Human Milk Omega-3 Fatty Acid Composition is Associated with Infant Temperament. Nutrients 2019, 11, 2964.

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