Erythrocyte fatty acid composition of Nepal breast-fed infants

Sigrun Henjum, Øyvind Lie, Manjeswori Ulak, Andrew L. Thorne-Lyman, Ram K. Chandyo, Prakash S. Shrestha, Wafaie W. Fawzi, Tor A. Strand, Marian Kjellevold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Essential fatty acids play a critical role in the growth and development of infants, but little is known about the fatty acid status of populations in low-income countries. The objective was to describe the fatty acid composition of red blood cells (RBC) in breastfeed Nepali infants and a subsample of their mothers and to identify the main sources of fatty acids in the mother’s diet, as well as the fatty acid composition of breast milk. Methods: RBC fatty acid composition was analyzed in a random sample of 303 infants and 72 mother, along with 68 breastmilk samples. Fatty acid profiles of the most important dietary fat sources were analyzed. Information on mother’s diet and intake of fat was collected by three 24-h dietary recalls. Results: In infant RBC’s, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was the main n-3 fatty acid, and arachidonic acid (AA) was the major n-6 fatty acid. Total n-6 PUFA was three times higher than total n-3 PUFA. Height-for-age (HAZ) was positively associated with DHA status and AA status in multivariable models. The concentration of all fatty acids was higher in children, compared to mothers, except Total n-6 PUFA and Linoleic acid (LA) where no differences were found. The mother’s energy intake from fat was 13% and cooking oil (sesame, mustard, soybean or sunflower oil) contributed 52% of the fat intake. Conclusions: RBC-DHA levels in both infants and mother was unexpected high taking into account few dietary DHA sources and the low DHA concentrations in breastmilk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1013
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • AA
  • Breast-fed children
  • Breastmilk
  • DHA
  • Plasma phospholipids
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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