Relationship between Changes in Fatty Acid Composition of the Erythrocyte Membranes and Fatty Acid Intake during Pregnancy in Pregnant Japanese Women

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Abstract

Objective: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an important nutrient required by pregnant women and fetuses. Several studies suggest that fatty acid composition changes during pregnancy. However, the association of longitudinal changes in erythrocyte fatty acid composition and dietary fatty acid intake during pregnancy is not well understood. We assessed the relationship between fatty acid composition of the erythrocyte membranes and fatty acid intake at each trimester in pregnant Japanese women. Methods: We conducted a prospective hospital-based cohort study. We investigated fatty acid composition of the erythrocyte membranes and intake of fatty acids during the three trimesters in 178 healthy, pregnant Japanese women. Results: The eicosapentaenoic acid and arachidonic acid percentage of the erythrocyte membranes significantly decreased. The percentages of linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid significantly increased during pregnancy. The DHA percentage in the erythrocyte membranes decreased from the second to the third trimester. The DHA percentage in the erythrocyte membranes positively correlated with DHA intake in the third trimester. Conclusion: In pregnant Japanese women, the fatty acid composition of the erythrocyte membranes markedly changed throughout pregnancy. The DHA intake in the third trimester may be insufficient to maintain DHA percentage in the maternal erythrocyte membranes.

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