Should there be a target level of docosahexaenoic acid in breast milk?

Kristina Harris Jackson, William S. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose of review This article examines the evidence for and against establishing a target level of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in breast milk. Recent findings Two target levels for milk DHA have been recently proposed. One (∼0.3% of milk fatty acids) was based on milk DHA levels achieved in women consuming the amount of DHA recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for pregnant and lactating women (at least 200mg DHA/day). Another (∼1.0%) was based on biomarker studies of populations with differing lifelong intakes of fish. Populations or research cohorts with milk DHA levels of 1.0% are associated with intakes that allow both the mother and infant to maintain relatively high DHA levels throughout lactation. Lower milk DHA levels may signal suboptimal maternal stores and possibly suboptimal infant intakes. Summary Based on the current data, a reasonable milk DHA target appears to be approximately 0.3%, which is about the worldwide average. Although this may not be the 'optimal' level (which remains to be defined), it is clearly an improvement over the currently low milk DHA levels (∼0.2%) seen in many Western populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-96
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • breast milk
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • infant health
  • recommendations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Should there be a target level of docosahexaenoic acid in breast milk?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this