Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1991 Jun 1;88(11):4835-9.

Deficiency of essential fatty acids and membrane fluidity during pregnancy and lactation.

Author information

Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, Austin 55912.


In a group of 19 normal pregnant women, plasma lipids were extracted, phospholipids were isolated, and the fatty acid (FA) compositions were measured by capillary gas chromatography. Blood samples were taken at 36 wk, at labor, and at 6 wk postpartum. The FA profiles showed deficiencies of omega 6 and omega 3 FA (omega indicating the length of the terminal saturated chain), the latter more severe, at all three times. Mean melting point (MMP) was calculated for each sample as an index of "fluidity" based upon all FA present. MMP varied linearly with total polyunsaturated FA and with double bond index, current measures of "fluidity" and essential FA status. MMP was elevated 9-11 degrees C in plasma phospholipids of women during pregnancy and labor and postpartum. Lactating mothers showed less recovery from the deficiencies than did the nonlactating mothers, but neither approached normal at 6 wk. The changes seen in phospholipid profiles suggest a significant transfer of omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated FA from the mother to the fetus. These FA are essential for normal fetal growth and development; their relative deficiency in maternal circulation suggests that dietary supplementation may be indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center