Influence of Maternal Obesity and Gestational Weight Gain on Maternal and Foetal Lipid Profile

Nutrients. 2016 Jun 15;8(6):368. doi: 10.3390/nu8060368.


Fatty acids (FAs) are fundamental for a foetus's growth, serving as an energy source, structural constituents of cellular membranes and precursors of bioactive molecules, as well as being essential for cell signalling. Long-chain polyunsaturated FAs (LC-PUFAs) are pivotal in brain and visual development. It is of interest to investigate whether and how specific pregnancy conditions, which alter fatty acid metabolism (excessive pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) or gestational weight gain (GWG)), affect lipid supply to the foetus. For this purpose, we evaluated the erythrocyte FAs of mothers and offspring (cord-blood) at birth, in relation to pre-pregnancy BMI and GWG. A total of 435 mothers and their offspring (237 males, 51%) were included in the study. Distribution of linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA), and their metabolites, arachidonic acid, dihomogamma linoleic (DGLA) and ecosapentanoic acid, was significantly different in maternal and foetal erythrocytes. Pre-pregnancy BMI was significantly associated with maternal percentage of MUFAs (Coeff: -0.112; p = 0.021), LA (Coeff: -0.033; p = 0.044) and DHA (Coeff. = 0.055; p = 0.0016); inadequate GWG with DPA (Coeff: 0.637; p = 0.001); excessive GWG with docosaexahenoic acid (DHA) (Coeff. = -0.714; p = 0.004). Moreover, pre-pregnancy BMI was associated with foetus percentage of PUFAs (Coeff: -0.172; p = 0.009), omega 6 (Coeff: -0.098; p = 0.015) and DHA (Coeff: -0.0285; p = 0.036), even after adjusting for maternal lipids. Our findings show that maternal GWG affects maternal but not foetal lipid profile, differently from pre-pregnancy BMI, which influences both.

Keywords: bioattenuation; biomagnification; fatty acids; gestational diabetes; gestational weight gain; obesity; pregnancy.

MeSH terms

  • 8,11,14-Eicosatrienoic Acid / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arachidonic Acid / blood
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Mass Index
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids / blood
  • Educational Status
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid / blood
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / blood*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Fetus / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linoleic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Weight Gain*
  • Young Adult
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid / blood


  • Fatty Acids
  • alpha-Linolenic Acid
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Linoleic Acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid
  • 8,11,14-Eicosatrienoic Acid