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Maternal long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid status during pregnancy and lactation in the APrON cohort. Open Access


Other title
long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Asaad, Yara Ahmed
Supervisor and department
Field, Catherine
Examining committee member and department
Mager, Diana
Manca, Donna
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science
Nutrition and Metabolism
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
INTRODUCTION: Docosahexaenoic (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) that are essential for fetal and infant development. The overall aim of the study was to characterize DHA, EPA and AA status during pregnancy and lactation in the first cohort of the APrON study and determine the relationship to breast milk composition. This study also determined the effect of taking a daily supplement containing DHA/EPA on maternal status. METHODS: Blood samples were collected at 3rd trimester (n=500) and 3 months postpartum (n=476). The relative percent and concentration of fatty acids in plasma phospholipids (a biomarker of fatty acid status) and the relative fatty acid composition of breast milk (n=398) were identified by gas liquid chromatography. RESULTS: The %DHA in phospholipids was significantly higher at pregnancy than lactation. However, the percentage of EPA and AA did not differ between pregnancy and lactation. The % DHA, EPA and AA in plasma was positively correlated with %DHA, EPA and AA in breast milk. Taking a daily DHA/EPA supplement (479 ± 415 mg) resulted in a significantly higher (P<0.05) %DHA in plasma PL and breast milk. CONCLUSIONS: The maternal status of essential n-3 fatty acids was found to positively correlate with the composition of these fatty acids in breast milk. DHA status was lower during lactation then pregnancy supporting the increased demand for incorporation into breast milk. Mothers who reported taking DHA/EPA supplements each day had higher DHA composition in plasma phospholipids and higher DHA content in breast milk.
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