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Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2009 May-Jun;80(5-6):289-96. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2009.02.007. Epub 2009 Apr 19.

Associations of maternal prenatal dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids with maternal and umbilical cord blood levels.

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  • 1Obesity Prevention Program, Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 133 Brookline Avenue, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Maternal n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status may influence birth outcomes and child health. We assessed second trimester maternal diet with food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) (n=1666), mid-pregnancy maternal erythrocyte PUFA concentrations (n=1550), and umbilical cord plasma PUFA concentrations (n=449). Mean (SD) maternal intake of total n-3 PUFA was 1.17 g/d (0.43), docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids (DHA+EPA) 0.16 g/d (0.17), and total n-6 PUFA 12.25 g/d (3.25). Mean maternal erythrocyte and cord plasma PUFA concentrations were 7.0% and 5.2% (total n-3), 5.0% and 4.6% (DHA+EPA), and 27.9% and 31.4% (total n-6). Mid-pregnancy diet-blood and blood-blood correlations were strongest for DHA+EPA (r=0.38 for diet with maternal blood, r=0.34 for diet with cord blood, r=0.36 for maternal blood with cord blood), and less strong for n-6 PUFA. The FFQ is a reliable measure of elongated PUFA intake, although inter-individual variation is present.

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