Original Article

Lipids

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 335-344

First online:

Longitudinal Assessment of Erythrocyte Fatty Acid Composition Throughout Pregnancy and Post Partum

  • Frances StewartAffiliated withDivision of Developmental Medicine, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary
  • , Vanessa A. RodieAffiliated withDivision of Developmental Medicine, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary
  • , Jane E. RamsayAffiliated withDivision of Developmental Medicine, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary
  • , Ian A. GreerAffiliated withDivision of Developmental Medicine, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary
  • , Dilys J. FreemanAffiliated withDivision of Developmental Medicine, University of Glasgow, Royal Infirmary
  • , Barbara J. MeyerAffiliated withSchool of Health Sciences, University of Wollongong Email author 

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Abstract

Transfer of fatty acids from mother to fetus during pregnancy is a requirement for optimal fetal growth. We report a longitudinal study of full maternal erythrocyte fatty acid profile assessed at each trimester of pregnancy [mean 12.5 (range 8–14), 26.1 (24–28) and 35.5 (33–38) weeks’ gestation] and in the post partum period [18.1 (12–26) weeks]. The study recruited healthy women (n = 47) from routine antenatal clinics at the Princess Royal Maternity Unit, Glasgow, Scotland. There were increases in 16:1n7 (22%, p = 0.0005), 24:1n9 (13%, p = 0.0032), 22:5n6 (25%, p = 0.0003), 18:3n3 (41%, p = 0.0007) and 22:6n3 (20%, p = 0.0005) concentrations during pregnancy. The greatest increases took place between gestations at sampling of 12.5 and 26.1 weeks. The change in 16:1n7 concentration between gestations at sampling of 12.5 and 35.3 weeks was negatively associated with maternal booking body mass index (r = −0.40, p = 0.006). The change in 22:6n3 concentration was correlated with the change in 24:1n9 (r = 0.70, p < 0.001). In samples taken four months post partum, 14:0 concentration was lower (29%, p = 0.0002) and 24:0 concentration (15%, p = 0.0009) and n6/n3 ratio (11%, p = 0.0019) were higher than at a gestation at sampling of 12.5 weeks. In conclusion, several fatty acids are specifically mobilised during pregnancy. The correlation between maternal 22:6n3 and 24:1n9 suggests that mobilisation of these fatty acids may be coordinated. The inverse relationship between 16:1n7 and maternal central obesity warrants further investigation.

Keywords

Fatty acid Pregnancy Obesity