JOURNAL OF SHANGHAI JIAOTONG UNIVERSITY (MEDICAL SCIENCE) ›› 2021, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (12): 1684-1690.doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1674-8115.2021.12.020

• Review • Previous Articles    

Research progress in the association between maternal prenatal polyunsaturated fatty acids and maternal and infant health

Rui MA(), Shu-jin CHEN, Feng-xiu OUYANG()   

  1. Ministry of Education-Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200092, China
  • Received:2021-08-04 Online:2021-12-28 Published:2022-01-28
  • Contact: Feng-xiu OUYANG;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(81961128023);National Key Research and Development Program of China(2017YFE0124700);Shanghai Municipal Education Commission—Gaofeng Clinical Medicine Grant Support(20152518)


The nutritional status during pregnancy is closely related to the pregnancy outcome of the mother and the health of the offspring. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) mainly include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), arachidonic acid (AA), α-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA). DHA, EPA and AA in human body are mainly from diet or synthesized from essential fatty acids ALA and LA. As the important components of cholesterol esters, phospholipids and fat in human body, PUFAs play complex biological functions through a variety of ways. For instance, PUFAs can participate in the composition of cell membrane, work as the second messenger precursors to transmit signals, and transform into hormones and PUFAs derivatives. Lack of PUFAs (EPA and DHA) during pregnancy may be related to the increased risk of preeclampsia, preterm delivery and postpartum depression, and affect the long-term cardiovascular health of children, but these correlations are still controversial. The increased intake of n-3 PUFAs (EPA and DHA) during pregnancy might be associated with the reduced risk of wheezing and asthma, while the increased intake of n-6 PUFAs (AA) might be associated with the increased risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis. For premature infants with insufficient DHA, timely supplementation of DHA could promote neurodevelopment. At present, there is a lack of normal reference range of PUFAs for pregnant women and newborns as the sensitive population. Thus, it is necessary to further study and establish the normal reference range of PUFAs in order to reasonably guide the nutrition of PUFAs during pregnancy.

Key words: polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), maternal and infant health, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

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