Altered Maternal Plasma Fatty Acid Composition by Alcohol Consumption and Smoking During Pregnancy and Associations With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

J Am Coll Nutr. Mar-Apr 2020;39(3):249-260. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2020.1737984. Epub 2020 Apr 2.


Objective: Polyunsaturated fatty acids are vital for optimal fetal neuronal development. The relationship between maternal alcohol consumption and smoking with third trimester plasma fatty acids were examined and their association with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD).Methods: Moderate to heavy alcohol-using and low/unexposed comparison women were recruited during mid-pregnancy from two prenatal clinics in Ukraine. The participants' infants underwent physical and neurobehavioral exams prior to one-year of age and classified as having FASD by maternal alcohol consumption and neurobehavioral scores. A subset of mother-child pairs was selected representing three groups of cases and controls: Alcohol-Exposed with FASD (AE-FASD, n = 30), Alcohol-Exposed Normally Developing (AE-ND, n = 33), or Controls (n = 46). Third trimester maternal plasma samples were analyzed for fatty acids and levels were compared across groups.Results: The percent of C18:0 (p < 0.001), arachidonic acid (AA, C20:4n-6, p = 0.017) and C22:5n-6 (p = 0.001) were significantly higher in AE-FASD women than controls or AE-ND women. Alcohol-exposed women who smoked had lower C22:5n-3 (p = 0.029) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6n-3, p = 0.005) and higher C22:5n-6 (p = 0.013) than women consuming alcohol alone or abstainers.Conclusion: Alterations in fatty acid profiles were observed in moderate to heavy alcohol-consuming mothers with infants classified with FASD compared to alcohol-exposed normally developing infants or controls.

Keywords: DHA; Fatty acids; alcohol; cigarettes; fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.