Maternal amino acid supplementation for intrauterine growth restriction

Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2011 Jan 1;3:428-44. doi: 10.2741/s162.


Maternal dietary protein supplementation to improve fetal growth has been considered as an option to prevent or treat intrauterine growth restriction. However, in contrast to balanced dietary supplementation, adverse perinatal outcomes in pregnant women who received high amounts of dietary protein supplementation have been observed. The responsible mechanisms for these adverse outcomes are unknown. This review will discuss relevant human and animal data to provide the background necessary for the development of explanatory hypotheses and ultimately for the development therapeutic interventions during pregnancy to improve fetal growth. Relevant aspects of fetal amino acid metabolism during normal pregnancy and those pregnancies affected by IUGR will be discussed. In addition, data from animal experiments which have attempted to determine mechanisms to explain the adverse responses identified in the human trials will be presented. Finally, we will suggest new avenues for investigation into how amino acid supplementation might be used safely to treat and/or prevent IUGR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arginine / administration & dosage
  • Arginine / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / drug effects*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / drug therapy*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Leucine / administration & dosage
  • Leucine / metabolism
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Taurine / administration & dosage
  • Taurine / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Taurine
  • Arginine
  • Leucine