Potential programming of selected cardiometabolic risk factors at childhood by maternal polyunsaturated fatty acid availability in the MEFAB cohort

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2015 Sep;100:21-7. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2015.06.001. Epub 2015 Jun 14.


Background: Increasing evidence suggests that long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) availability in utero could program later health.

Objective: The objective of the study was to explore whether prenatal LCPUFA availability could be involved in programming cardiometabolic disease risk at childhood.

Methods: Data of 242 mother-child pairs from the Maastricht Essential Fatty Acid Birth (MEFAB) cohort were used. Multi-variable linear regression analysis was applied to identify associations between maternal LCPUFA concentrations around weeks 11, 22 and 32 of pregnancy and at time of delivery and cardiometabolic risk factors of their children (glucose metabolism, blood lipids, and blood pressure) at age 7.

Results: Maternal eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) at week 11 of pregnancy was negatively associated with children׳s glucose (B=-0.34mmol/L; 95% CI: -0.56, -0.12). Positive associations were found between maternal linoleic acid (18:2n-6) at time of delivery and children׳s proinsulin (B=0.25pmol/L; 95% CI: 0.08, 0.41); maternal 3-docosapentaenoic acid (22:5n-3) at week 11 and children׳s total cholesterol (B=1.23mmol/L; 95% CI: 0.45, 2.01) and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (B=1.12mmol/L; 95% CI: 0.42, 1.82); and maternal osbond acid (22:5n-6) at week 22 and tetracosadienoic acid (24:2n-6) at week 32 and children׳s diastolic blood pressure (B=16.86mmHg; 95% CI: 7.63, 26.08 and B=17.75mmHg; 95% CI: 6.37, 29.94, respectively).

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that maternal omega-6 (n-6) fatty acids may be of particular importance in relation to children׳s glucose metabolism and blood pressure, whereas omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids seem particularly related to blood lipids at childhood. In general, the strength of the associations appeared stronger with fatty acid concentrations in early pregnancy compared to late pregnancy.

Keywords: Cardiometabolic disease risk; Fetal origins; Polyunsaturated fatty acids; Prenatal programming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / blood*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Metabolic Diseases / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Glucose