The role of n-3 LCPUFA in pregnancy

Maria Makrides

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The metabolic demand for n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFA), particularly docosahexaenoic acid (22: 6 n-3, DHA) is increased during pregnancy because of the extra needs of the fetus, expanded maternal cell mass and placenta. However, in Western countries maternal dietary n-3 LCPUFA intake in pregnancy is low and it is not clear whether adaptive metabolic mechanisms, such as increased DHA synthesis from precursor fatty acids, are capable of meeting the increased need in pregnancy. Consequently randomized controlled trials have been important to determine whether additional dietary n-3 LCPUFA in pregnancy modifies pregnancy, maternal and infant health outcomes. Supplementation with at least 1g n-3 LCPUFA per day results in a modest increase in the duration of gestation that may be most evident at the extremes of gestation. Additionally, n-3 LPUFA supplementation of well nourished pregnant women has little benefit in preventing maternal postnatal depression and is unlikely to result in major benefits to the developmental outcomes of young children. Further work in needed to identify the specific ''at risk'' groups who are most likely to benefit from supplementation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-258
    Number of pages4
    JournalOCL - Oleagineux Corps Gras Lipides
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


    • DHA
    • Infant development
    • Maternal depression
    • Pregnancy
    • Pregnancy outcomes


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