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Dietary intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids among pregnant Mexican women



Nutritional demands for docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are high during pregnancy. Diets low in DHA and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty-acids (LC-PUFA) in pregnancy are associated with poorer DHA status and slower reestablishment of maternal stores. To assess intakes of LC-PUFA among urban pregnant women in Central Mexico, we conducted a cross-sectional survey in Prenatal Clinic at the General Hospital No. 1 of the Mexican Society Security Institute, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. We ascertained intakes over past three months of 110 food items using a food frequency questionnaire developed for this population. Among 1364 pregnant women 18–35 years of age (mean age 26.2 ± 4.7 years) who were interviewed at 18–22 weeks gestation, median (inter-quartile range) daily intakes of linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid (LA), arachidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA were 17.6 (13.6; 22.2) g, 1.4 (1.0; 2.0) g, 137 (102; 174) mg, 18 (10; 38) mg, and 55 (37; 99) mg respectively. The median ratio of n-6 to n-3 PUFA was 11.8:1. The main dietary contributions to DHA intake were eggs, chicken, and fresh canned fish. Intakes of PUFAs were higher among women who had completed high school (p < 0.01). We conclude that intakes of DHA were much lower than recommended values; the high n-6 to n-3 ratio suggests a suboptimal balance of these PUFAs. Very few sources of DHA are commonly eaten.