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Br J Nutr. 2008 Dec;100(6):1158-68. doi: 10.1017/S000711450801413X. Epub 2008 Jun 30.

Impact of PUFA on early immune and fetal development.

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Placenta-Labor, Department of Obstetrics, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Bachstrasse 18, 07740 Jena, Germany.


It has recently been reported that the increased prevalence in childhood allergy may be linked to deviations in fetal immune development. One reason may be impaired nutrient supply. Hence, a well-differentiated placenta together with an optimal fetal nutrition via the mother are important prerequisites for the establishment of a functional immune system with normal immune responses. Fatty acids and their derivatives can influence both the early immune development and immune maturation by regulating numerous metabolic processes and the gene expression of important proteins such as enzymes and cytokines. The present review summarises the impact of nutritional fatty acids on the development of the immune system as well as the fetal development. It describes the mechanisms of action of PUFA, trans fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids in programming the fetus with regard to its risk of acquiring atopic diseases in childhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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