Food and Behaviour Research

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Infant plasma trans, n-6, and n-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids are related to maternal plasma fatty acids, length of gestation, and birth weight and length

Elias SL, Innis SM. (2001) Am J Clin Nutr.  73(4): 807-14. 

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BACKGROUND: Arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are important for growth and neural development. trans Fatty acids (TFAs) may inhibit desaturation of linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to AA and DHA, respectively. Conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) also alter lipid metabolism and body fat.

OBJECTIVE: We determined the associations of birth outcome with maternal and infant plasma concentrations of TFAs, CLAs, AA, and DHA.

DESIGN: In healthy women, we sampled maternal blood at 35 wk gestation (n = 58) and umbilical cord blood at birth (n = 70).

RESULTS: Mean (+/- SEM) TFA concentrations (% by wt) in infant plasma were as follows: triacylglycerol, 2.83 +/- 0.19 (range: 0.63-12.79); phospholipid, 0.67 +/- 0.03 (0.11-1.33); and cholesteryl ester, 2.04 +/- 0.01 (0.86-4.24). LA, AA, DHA, TFA, and CLA concentrations in infant phospholipids correlated with the same fatty acid in maternal plasma phospholipids (n = 44; P < 0.05). Infant plasma cholesteryl ester and triacylglycerol TFAs and cholesteryl ester CLAs (r = -0.33, -0.42, and -0.49, respectively) were significantly inversely related to length of gestation. Triacylglycerol and cholesteryl ester AA were positively related to length of gestation (r = 0.41 and 0.37, respectively) and birth weight (r = 0.27 and 0.23, respectively). Inverse correlations occurred between infant plasma TFA and DHA concentrations in triacylglycerols (r = -0.33) and between TFA and AA concentrations in cholesteryl esters (r = -0.23).

CONCLUSION: The results suggest possible important effects of TFAs and of AA on fetal growth and length of gestation.