Prenatal and Infant Health

Perinatal Omega-3 Deficiency May Condition Future Sensitivity to Food Reward and Impaired Energy Expenditure

This article at a glance Is it possible that the quality of food during gestation and around birth sets the stage for the eating behaviour of the offspring when they become adults? This study reports that in mice a perinatal deficiency in dietary omega-3 fatty acids has long-lasting effects into adulthood, enhancing the brain circuits for reward, enhancing the anxiety state and reducing spontaneous activity. The results provide experimental support for the hypothesis that dietary omega-3 LCPUFA deficiency during pregnancy increases the motivation to eat easily palatable foods that may…

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Maternal Plasma Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Concentrations Increase at the Critical Time of Neural Tube Closure

  Barbara J Meyer (University of Wollongong, Australia) Dilys J Freeman (University of Glasgow, UK)   Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) metabolism DHA is an omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 LCPUFA) containing 22 carbons and 6 carbon to carbon double bonds denoted as 22:6n-3. It is an n-3 fatty acid because the first carbon to carbon double bond is on the third carbon from the methyl end of the fatty acid chain: hence the terminology n minus 3 (n-3) because you need to count backwards…

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Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia in Preterm Infants – Understanding the Physiological Changes in AA and DHA during Gestation

This article at a glance Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is a form of lung injury caused by assisted ventilation and oxygen support compounding an incomplete development of lung tissue observed in very early and low birth weight preterm infants. In a study of fetal fatty acid (LCPUFA) accretion during the third trimester of pregnancy, the level of arachidonic acid contained in phosphatidylcholine (AA-PC) was found to be more abundant in cord blood than in the maternal circulation, and fetal docosahexaenoyl-PC (DHA-PC) level started exceeding maternal levels after week 33. Bronchopulmonary dysplasia severity…

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Is Arachidonic Acid Required to Balance Docosahexaenoic Acid in Infant Feeding for Proper Development?

Thomas Brenna Division of Nutritional Sciences Cornell University Ithaca, NY 14853 USA jtb4@cornell.edu / 607-255-9182   The long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA, or ARA) are conserved components of the breast milks of all well-nourished mothers worldwide. Since at least the mid-1990s, they have been permitted as components of infant formulas in Europe, and since 2001 in the USA. Prior to about 1990, the safest sources of fats for infant formulas were vegetable oils with no LCPUFA, or dairy fat with negligible DHA. Concerns…

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Understanding Defects in Fatty Acid Mobilization to Safeguard Fetal DHA Accretion in Gestational Diabetes

This article at a glance This study documented the changes in circulating levels of various fatty acids during the third trimester of pregnancy complicated by gestational diabetes. In gestational diabetes, defects in the mobilization of several fatty acids were identified, including the DHA necessary for accretion by the fetus. In a separate controlled intervention study, fish oil supplementation during the third trimester lowered the incidence of some complications of gestational diabetes in neonates and mothers. Replication in larger studies is necessary to substantiate the findings.   Much of the DHA…

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Enhanced Production of Breast Milk DHA during Chia Oil Intake

This article at a glance A randomized controlled intervention trial has addressed the effect of chia oil intake during pregnancy and nursing on breast milk fatty acid composition in healthy women. In addition to increased levels of alpha-linolenic acid, a marked elevation in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in breast milk is observed during the first three months in nursing women taking chia oil. The study indicates that chia oil consumption can promote additional accumulation of DHA into breast milk, a potentially useful application to support dietary omega-3 LCPUFA needs by infants…

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Achieving Seizure Freedom with Fish Oil in Children with Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy

This article at a glance This study addressed the question whether daily intake of fish oil during three months had an effect on treatment-resistant epilepsy in children. More than half of the children had no epileptic attacks during the intervention period. The results support a limited number of studies in humans showing that omega-3 LCPUFA may have beneficial effects in epilepsy. Future studies with optimized protocols will be required to confirm the results.   Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that can be idiopathic, i.e. occur without a clearly identifiable…

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Evidence for Sexual Dimorphism in the Neonatal Fat Mass Response to Maternal Long-Chain PUFA Intake

This article at a glance Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) intake during pregnancy has been associated with a small but significant increase in the average length of a healthy pregnancy, as well as the body weight of a newborn. In this study the investigators address the sex-specific effects of maternal LCPUFA intake during pregnancy on body compositon of healthy full-term babies. The results suggest that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 LCPUFA intake favors development of adipose tissue in newborn girls, and that higher DHA intake is associated with…

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Advances in Understanding the Relationship between Child Problem Behavior and Maternal Long-Chain PUFA Intake

This article at a glance An important area in omega-3 research addresses the possibility to prevent or alleviate ADHD in childhood by omega-3 supplementaton with omega-3 LCPUFA of mothers during pregnancy or the children with ADHD themselves. A higher n-3:n-6 ratio during mid-pregnancy was found to be associated with fewer emotional, but not behavioral, problems in six-year old children. In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled intervention trial with 8-14 year old boys with ADHD it was found that attention levels improved in boys that received omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation for four months….

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Assessing the Effectiveness of Omega-3 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Environmental Enteropathy in Children

This article at a glance Environmental enteropathy is increasingly being recognized to contribute to nutrient malabsorption and augmented catabolism in young children living in conditions where fecal to oral contamination occurs constantly. Besides improving sanitary conditions, no effective medical interventions have been clearly identified to improve environmental enteropathy. In this study the effectiveness in environmental enteropathy of a controlled oral supplementation with multinutrients and omega-3 LCPUFA was determined in young children in a rural setting in Malawi.   Environmental enteropathy is a disease of infants and young children characterized by persistent subclinical…

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