12 January - 20 June 2016

Maternal polyunsaturated fatty consumption may influence offspring body composition

23 Jan 13

Scientists from the University of Southampton have investigated the association between maternal plasma polyunsaturated fatty acids in late pregnancy with offspring body composition.  The study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism by Moon et al. notes that previous findings have indicated that nutritional environment in utero influences body composition in childhood and adulthood.  There is increasing evidence, although some is conflicting, that individual polyunsaturated fatty acids might influence adipose development, with n-6 PUFAs derived from plants oil being highly adipogenic and n-3 PUFAs having the opposite effect on adipogenesis.  Previous animal studies have found that offspring of mothers fed n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy and lactation had lower fat mass compared with controls. Is this study, Moon et al recruited 293 mother-child pairs involved in the Southampton Women’s Survey, who had complete measurements of maternal plasma PUFA concentration in late pregnancy and offspring body composition at both ages 4 and 6 years.    Assessment of the mother’s lifestyle, diet and anthropometry including weight gain, and height were recorded at 11 and 34 weeks gestation.  At 34 weeks gestation, maternal blood was analysed for fatty acid composition.  Moon et al. assessed diet and body composition of the offspring during the first 6 years of life.  Duration of breast-feeding was reported at 6 and 12 months of age and the offspring’s diet was assessed at 3 years old using an administered food frequency questionnaire, with a child receiving a score based on a “prudent pattern” characterised by greater consumption of fruit, vegetables, water, whole-meal bread and fish and lower consumption of white bread, chips and processed meat.  Body composition of 776 children at aged 4 and 531 children at aged 6 was measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, yielding fat mass, lean mass, percentage fat mass and percentage lean mass, with adjustments made for the sex of the child.  The scientists found that children who were born to mothers who had had greater levels of n-6 PUFAs during pregnancy had greater fat mass. Results from the study also showed weaker associations between a mother's levels of n-3 PUFAs, more commonly known as omega 3, and muscle mass in their offspring – the higher the level of n-3 the less fat and more muscle and bone in the baby.  In conclusion the study states: “Obesity is a rising problem in this country and there have been very few studies of mother's fatty acid levels during pregnancy and offspring fat mass. These results suggest that alterations to maternal diet during pregnancy to reduce n-6 PUFAs intake might have a beneficial effect on the body composition of the developing child."

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

share this article
RSSL endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-mail bulletin by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. RSSL provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. This document may be copied and distributed provided the source is cited as RSSL's Food e-News and the information so distributed is not used for profit.

Previous editions

Load more editions

Make an Enquiry