Infant plasma trans, n-6, and n-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids are related to maternal plasma fatty acids, length of gestation, and birth weight and length

Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Apr;73(4):807-14. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/73.4.807.


Background: Arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are important for growth and neural development. trans Fatty acids (TFAs) may inhibit desaturation of linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) to AA and DHA, respectively. Conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs) also alter lipid metabolism and body fat.

Objective: We determined the associations of birth outcome with maternal and infant plasma concentrations of TFAs, CLAs, AA, and DHA.

Design: In healthy women, we sampled maternal blood at 35 wk gestation (n = 58) and umbilical cord blood at birth (n = 70).

Results: Mean (+/- SEM) TFA concentrations (% by wt) in infant plasma were as follows: triacylglycerol, 2.83 +/- 0.19 (range: 0.63-12.79); phospholipid, 0.67 +/- 0.03 (0.11-1.33); and cholesteryl ester, 2.04 +/- 0.01 (0.86-4.24). LA, AA, DHA, TFA, and CLA concentrations in infant phospholipids correlated with the same fatty acid in maternal plasma phospholipids (n = 44; P < 0.05). Infant plasma cholesteryl ester and triacylglycerol TFAs and cholesteryl ester CLAs (r = -0.33, -0.42, and -0.49, respectively) were significantly inversely related to length of gestation. Triacylglycerol and cholesteryl ester AA were positively related to length of gestation (r = 0.41 and 0.37, respectively) and birth weight (r = 0.27 and 0.23, respectively). Inverse correlations occurred between infant plasma TFA and DHA concentrations in triacylglycerols (r = -0.33) and between TFA and AA concentrations in cholesteryl esters (r = -0.23).

Conclusion: The results suggest possible important effects of TFAs and of AA on fetal growth and length of gestation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arachidonic Acid / blood
  • Birth Weight*
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Embryonic and Fetal Development
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood
  • Gestational Age*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linoleic Acid / blood*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / blood


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Linoleic Acid