Effects of malnutrition on the erythrocyte fatty acid composition and plasma vitamin E levels of Pakistani children

Acta Paediatr. 1997 Jul;86(7):690-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1997.tb08569.x.


Erythrocyte fatty acids and plasma vitamin E concentrations were determined in 47 grade 2 and 21 grade 3 malnourished Pakistani children (ages 4-56 months). Data were compared with those of 26 age- and sex-matched apparently healthy controls. Evaluation with three statistical approaches revealed that both grade 2 and grade 3 malnourished children had decreased erythrocyte omega6 fatty acids and to a lesser extent decreased omega3 fatty acids. These decreases were compensated for by increased omega9 fatty acids. The patients tended to have lower plasma vitamin E concentrations. We conclude that malnourished Pakistani children have low essential fatty acid status, notably those of the omega6 series. The combination of low erythrocyte 22:6omega3 and a low 22:5omega6/22:4omega6 ratio in grade 2 patients suggests low delta4-desaturation activity, which may be due to impaired peroxisomal beta-oxidation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / blood*
  • Child Nutrition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries*
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry*
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / blood
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Pakistan
  • Vitamin E / blood*


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Vitamin E