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Pediatr Res. 2005 Dec;58(6):1254-8.

Maternal and cord blood long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are predictive of bone mass at birth in healthy term-born infants.

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Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC PUFA) are associated with bone mass in animals and human adults, yet no data exist for human infants. Thus, the objective of this study was to establish that LC PUFA status is associated with bone mass in healthy infants. Thirty mother-infant pairs were studied for LC PUFA status by measuring maternal and cord blood red blood cells (RBC) for arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and DHA. Infant anthropometry and lumbar spine 1-4, femur and whole-body bone mineral content (BMC) were measured within 15 d of delivery. Maternal and infant LC PUFA were tested for their relationship to BMC using Pearson correlation and backward step-wise regression analyses. At birth, the average gestational age was 39.3+/-1.1 wk and body weight was 3433+/-430 g. Cord RBC AA was positively correlated with whole-body BMC, AA:EPA positively correlated with lumbar spine 1-4 BMC and femur BMC. Maternal RBC AA was positively correlated with whole-body BMC. After accounting for infant weight using regression, whole-body BMC was positively predicted by cord RBC AA but none of the maternal LC PUFA; lumbar spine 1-4 BMC was positively predicted by cord RBCAA:EPA ratio but negatively by maternal DHA; and femur BMC was not predicted by cord LC PUFA but was negatively predicted by maternal DHA. Imbalances among the n-6 and n-3 LC PUFA by term gestation are associated with lower bone mass, suggesting that the maternal diet should be balanced in n-6 and n-3 LC PUFA.

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