Joshi S, Rao S, Girigosavi S, Daware M, Kale A, Hegde M. (2004) Nutrition 20(5) 465-72
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OBJECTIVE: We studied the effect of folic acid and polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy in Wistar albino rats on cognitive performance and serum glucose concentrations in their pups.
METHODS: Pregnant female rats from four groups (n = 6/group) were fed casein diets with 18% protein and 2 mg of folic acid/kg of diet (group I), 12% protein and no folic acid (group II), 12% protein and 8 mg of folic acid/kg of diet (group III), or 12% protein and 70 g of cod liver oil/kg of diet (group IV). All pups were weaned on standard control diet with 18% protein. Cognitive performance, brain fatty acid profile, and serum glucose concentrations were studied in offspring at age 6 mo.
RESULTS: There was no significant difference in length of gestation or litter size, but the litter weight for group IV was lower (P = 0.047) than that for group I. After weaning, males in group II had lower (P < 0.05) body weights, but those in group III had weights comparable to those in group I for both sexes. In group IV, body weights were lower beyond 15 wk (P < 0.05). Relative brain weight and cognitive performance were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in group IV males and showed higher levels of brain gamma-linolenic acid. Further, these animals had serum glucose levels comparable to those of control animals at age 6 mo, whereas serum glucose levels were higher in males from groups II (P = 0.01) and III (P = 0.01).
CONCLUSION: Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy improved cognitive performance and maintained glucose levels into adulthood, unlike folic acid supplementation, which supported only fetal growth and did not maintain glucose levels.