Research Article

Body fat of British and Dutch infants.

Br Med J 1975; 1 doi: (Published 22 March 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;1:653
  1. E M Widdowson,
  2. M J Dauncey,
  3. D M Gairdner,
  4. J H Jonxis,
  5. M Pelikan-Filipkova


    The fatty acids in the body fat of 41 British and 37 Dutch infants between birth and 1 year were determined. At birth linoleic acid contributed 1-3% of the total fatty acids of the body fat in infants in both countries. By one month its proportion in the fat of the Dutch infants was about 25% and by four months 32-37%; in the fat of the British infants it was never more than 3%. In the Dutch infants this large increase in the linoleic acid percentage was accompanied by a fall in the percentage contribution of others, particularly the saturated acids myristic, palmitic, and stearic. Infants born preterm showed changes in their fat after birth similar to those in fullterm infants. The difference between the composition of the fat of the infants in the two countries is attributed to the nature of the fat in the milk they received. Until recently most British infants who are not breast-fed have been given milks based on cow's milk with only minor modifications. For the past 10 years many Dutch infants have been given a milk in which all the cow's milk fat has been replaced by maize oil. Dutch infants also had a lower concentration of cholesterol in their serum than British infants, which was not unexpected. The results show that the triglycerides in the adipose tissue are profoundly influenced by the nature of the fat in the diet.