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Fatty Acid Levels During Pregnancy May Influence Child Body Fat

January 16, 2013 in child health

As parents, we influence the health and well being of our children in so many ways–some we aren’t even aware of. And as we all know, it begins with a mother’s lifestyle choices while the child is in her womb. The latest way researchers have found is the level of n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Mothers who have higher levels, seem to have fatter children.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton in England assessed the fat and muscle mass of 293 boys and girls at four and six years of age. This was compared to the concentrations of PUFAs measured in blood samples from their mothers during pregnancy. The mothers with higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids had fatter offspring.

“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,” says lead researcher Dr. Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton. “These results suggest that alterations to maternal diet during pregnancy to reduce n-6 PUFAs intake might have a beneficial effect on the body composition of the developing child.”

Results from the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS) are being added to a larger body of work at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and University of Southampton being used to understand how diet and lifestyle of mothers during pregnancy factors into early childhood body composition and bone development.

Omega 6 fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. The negative publicity around omega 6s is not meant to vilify them–a healthy diet contains a balance of omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It’s just that high levels of omega 6, which are so prevalent in the modern processed foods we eat, can lead to inflammatory issues in the body.

2 responses to Fatty Acid Levels During Pregnancy May Influence Child Body Fat

  1. Very interesting thanks!

  2. This is a topic which is close to my heart… Take care!

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