Effect of alpha-linolenic acid supplementation during pregnancy on maternal and neonatal polyunsaturated fatty acid status and pregnancy outcome.

January 1, 2004 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Effect of alpha-linolenic acid supplementation during pregnancy on maternal and neonatal polyunsaturated fatty acid status and pregnancy outcome.

Year: 2004
Authors: R H M De Groot, G Hornstra, A C Houwelingen, F Roumen.
Publication Name: Am. J. Clin. Nutr.
Publication Details: Volume 79; 251-279.


As noted in the previous abstract, essential fatty acid (EFA) status and long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) status decreases during pregnancy. The major LCPUFA, arachidonic acid (n-6, AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (n-3, DHA), are derived from linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), respectively. AA and DHA are important building blocks in all cell membranes and are present in high concentrations in neural and retinal tissues. Previous studies have demonstrated that supplementation of the maternal diet with fish oil successfully increases fetal DHA availability and neonatal DHA status. However, using fish oil to increase maternal DHA status results in lower AA concentrations in their infants. Due to this undesirable effect, use of ALA supplementation to increase DHA levels is under investigation, as the extent to which ALA is converted to DHA remains unclear. Thus, the aim of the present study was to improve maternal and neonatal DHA and AA status by supplementing pregnant women with a margarine containing high amounts of ALA and LA. Fifty-eight pregnant women participated in this double-blind, randomized, controlled dietary intervention trial, in which the women were randomly allocated to either an experimental group or a control group. The experimental group (n=29), consumed = 25g daily of an ALA enriched (14.2%), high LA (45.4%) margarine, whereas the control group (n=29) consumed = 25g daily of a high LA (55.02%) margarine with low levels of ALA (0.17%). Both margarines contained 79.5% fat, 20% water, 0.04% vitamins, 0.04% flavor, 0.03% lecithin, and 0.12% BHT, differing only in ALA and LA content. The margarines were consumed from week 14 of pregnancy until delivery. Blood was collected at weeks 14, 26, and 36 of pregnancy, at delivery, as well as at 32 wk postpartum. A blood sample from the umbilical vein and a piece of the umbilical cord was also collected immediately upon delivery. Blood and tissue samples were subsequently used for analysis of phosphlipid fatty acid profiles to investigation of the effect of the intervention on the EFA and LCPUFA status of the mothers during pregnancy and of the neonates at birth. As in the previous study, daily margarine consumption for the groups was similar at 27.4 +/- 3.2g in the control group, and 27.8 +/- 3.3g in the experimental group. In the experimental group, ALA + LA supplementation did not prevent decreases in maternal DHA and AA concentrations, and when compared to the control group, did not increase maternal or neonate DHA concentrations. However, a significant increase in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) was observed in the experimental group when compared to the controls. In addition, a decrease in AA status in infants born to mothers consuming the experimental diet was observed. This data suggests that supplementation with ALA + LA during pregnancy does not significantly increase maternal or neonate DHA or AA status. Based on these results, the authors suggest that a mixture of DHA and AA may be more efficient in optimizing maternal and infant LCPUFA status.

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