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Nutr J. 2017 Apr 18;16(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0242-9.

Association between maternal intake of n-6 to n-3 fatty acid ratio during pregnancy and infant neurodevelopment at 6 months of age: results of the MOCEH cohort study.

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Department of Nutritional Science and Food Management, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Nutrition Consultation, Seoul National University Hospital, Healthcare System Gangnam Center, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Child Psychiatry, National Center for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ewha Womans University, College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.
Department of Nutritional Science and Food Management, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea.



Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) are essential for infant neurodevelopment. The nutritional adequacy of dietary LC-PUFAs depends not only on the LC-PUFAs intake but also on the n-6 to n-3 fatty acid ratio (n-6/n-3 PUFAs). This study aimed to identify the association between the maternal dietary n-6/n-3 PUFAs and motor and cognitive development of infants at 6 months of age.


We used data from 960 participants in the Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study, which is a multi-center prospective cohort study. Dietary intake of pregnant women was assessed by a one-day 24-h recall method. Food consumption of infants was estimated based on the volume of breast milk and weaning foods. The duration of each feed was used to estimate the likely volume of milk consumed. Dietary intake of infants at 6 months was also assessed by a 24-h recall method. Cognitive and motor development of infants at 6 months of age was assessed by the Korean Bayley scales of infant development edition II (BSID-II) including the mental developmental index (MDI) and the psychomotor developmental index (PDI).


Maternal intakes of n-6/n-3 PUFAs and linoleic acid (LA)-to-α-linolenic acid (ALA) ratio (LA/ALA) were 9.7 ± 6.3 and 11.12 ± 6.9, respectively. Multiple regression analysis, after adjusting for covariates, showed that n-6/n-3 PUFAs was negatively associated with both the MDI (β = -0.1674, P = 0.0291) and PDI (β = -0.1947, P = 0.0380) at 6 months of age. These inverse associations were also observed between LA/ALA and both the MDI and PDI (MDI; β = -0.1567; P = 0.0310, PDI; β = -0.1855; P = 0.0367). Multiple logistic regression analysis, with the covariates, showed that infants whose mother's LA/ALA were ranked in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quartile were at approximately twice the risk with more than twice the risk of delayed performance on the PDI compared to the lowest quartile (1st vs. 2nd; OR = 2.965; 95% CI = 1.376 - 6.390, 1st vs. 3rd; OR = 3.047; 95% CI = 1.374 - 6.756 and 1st vs. 4th; OR = 2.551; 95% CI = 1.160 - 5.607).


Both the maternal dietary n-6/n-3 PUFAs and LA/ALA intake were significantly associated with the mental and psychomotor development of infants at 6 months of age. Thus, maintaining low n-6/n-3 PUFAs and LA/ALA is encouraged for women during pregnancy.


Bayley scales of infant development; Infants; Linoleic acid-to-α-linolenic acid ratio; Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; Psychomotor development

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