Abstract and Introduction
Many pregnant women avoid dietary fish, the premier source of omega-3 fats, owing to fear of industrial contaminants. This concern, combined with a Western diet relatively deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, has created an imbalance of omega-3 compared with omega-6 fats. This imbalance may lead to a proinflammatory state that contributes to a number of complications, including preterm birth, pregnancy-induced hypertension and postpartum depression. Fetal deficiency of omega-3 fats may place infants at risk for allergic disease and suboptimum neuropsychiatric development. Although a number of studies of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation are suggestive of benefit, other studies have not shown a benefit. More research is needed to elucidate the risks and benefits of fish consumption and dietary omega-3 supplementation in pregnancy.
Since the mid-19th Century, major dietary changes have occurred in the industrial world. There has been a significant decrease in vital micronutrients, such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increase in other fats, most notably omega-6 fatty acids. Prior to industrialization, humans obtained a significant proportion of dietary fat from fish, wild game and leaves. The modern diet, emphasizing grains, dairy products and grain-fed meats, has replaced these traditional food sources. As a result of these changes, there have been increases in total fat, saturated fat and linoleic acid. Owing to the differing biochemical derivatives of these polyunsaturated fats, the modern diet has been observed to be relatively proinflammatory. Inflammation may play an important role in a number of pregnancy-related morbidities, including preterm labor, preterm premature rupture of membranes, chorioamnionitis, cerebral palsy and depression during pregnancy and postpartum. This review summarizes existing knowledge regarding dietary omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) and their current and potential applications in these aforementioned and other pregnancy-related morbidities.
Expert Rev of Obstet Gynecol. 2010;5(1):125-138. © 2010
Cite this: Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Maternal, Fetal, Infant and Child Wellbeing - Medscape - Jan 01, 2010.