Limiting polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in pregnancy may influence body fat of children, researchers find

January 10, 2013, University of Southampton
Limiting polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in pregnancy may influence body fat of children
Atlantic mackerel is high in omega 3. The higher the diet of level of n-3 (omega 3) the less fat and more muscle and bone in the baby.

(Medical Xpress)—Southampton researchers have demonstrated that mothers who have higher levels of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are found in cooking oils and nuts, during pregnancy have fatter children.

The study, carried out by the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, assessed the fat and muscle mass of 293 boys and girls at four and six years, who are part of the Southampton Women's Survey (SWS), a large prospective mother-offspring cohort.

Their assessments were compared to the concentrations of PUFAs which were measured in blood samples collected from their mothers during .

The study, published in the January edition of Journal of Clinical , found that children who were born to mothers who had had greater levels of n-6 PUFAs during pregnancy had greater .

Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, who led the research with Dr Rebecca Moon, Clinical Research Fellow, comments: "Obesity is a rising problem in this country and there have been very few studies of mother's fatty acid levels during pregnancy and offspring fat mass. These results suggest that alterations to during pregnancy to reduce n-6 PUFAs intake might have a beneficial effect on the body composition of the developing child."

Results from the study also showed weaker associations between a mother's levels of n-3 PUFAs, more commonly known as omega 3 and found in , and muscle mass in their offspring – the higher the level of n-3 the less fat and more muscle and bone in the baby.

This could suggest that a pregnancy supplementation strategy would be beneficial. However Dr Moon says: "n-6 and n-3 PUFAs seem to act in opposite directions on fat mass; previous trials have attempted to use n-3 supplementation to reduce fat mass, but our results suggest that such an approach might work best when combined with a reduction in dietary n-6 intake."

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Professor of Rheumatology and Director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton adds: "This study forms part of a larger programme of research at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and University of Southampton in which we are seeking to understand how factors such as diet and lifestyle in the mother during pregnancy, and of the child in early life, influence a child's body composition and bone development. This work should help us to design interventions aimed at optimising in childhood and later adulthood and thus improve the health of future generations."

Explore further: Children's body fat linked to Vitamin D insufficiency in mothers

More information: A copy of the paper: "Maternal plasma polyunsaturated fatty acid status in late pregnancy is associated with offspring body composition in childhood," is available at jcem.endojournals.org/content/98/1/299.abstract

Related Stories

Children's body fat linked to Vitamin D insufficiency in mothers

May 23, 2012
Children are more likely to have more body fat during childhood if their mother has low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy, according to scientists at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU), ...

Children's body fatness linked to decisions made in the womb

August 22, 2012
New born human infants have the largest brains among primates, but also the highest proportion of body fat. Before birth, if the supply of nutrients from the mother through the placenta is limited or unbalanced, the developing ...

Mother's diet influences baby's allergies -- new research

September 9, 2011
A possible link between what a mother eats during pregnancy and the risk of her child developing allergies has been identified in new research published in this month's The Journal of Physiology.

Growth in the womb and early infancy predicts bone size and strength in childhood

March 26, 2012
Researchers from the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, have presented evidence that early growth predicts the size, mineralisation, shape and strength of the hip bone in childhood. The presentation ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.