Long chain fatty acids and dietary fats in fetal nutrition

Authors

  • Irene Cetin,

    1. Department of Mother and Child, Hospital Luigi Sacco, University of Milan, Via G.B.Grassi 74, 20157 Milan, Italy
    2. Centre for Fetal Research Giorgio Pardi, University of Milan, Italy
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  • Gioia Alvino,

    1. Department of Mother and Child, Hospital Luigi Sacco, University of Milan, Via G.B.Grassi 74, 20157 Milan, Italy
    2. Centre for Fetal Research Giorgio Pardi, University of Milan, Italy
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  • Manuela Cardellicchio

    1. Centre for Fetal Research Giorgio Pardi, University of Milan, Italy
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Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 588, Issue 4, 741, Article first published online: 12 February 2010

  • This review was presented at The Journal of Physiology Symposium on Altered placental function as a cause of altered fetal growth, which took place at the Annual Meeting of The Society for Gynecologic Investigation at Glasgow, UK on 20 March 2009. It was commissioned by the Editorial Board and reflects the views of the authors.

Corresponding author I. Cetin: Department of Mother and Child, Hospital Luigi Sacco, University of Milan, Via G.B.Grassi 74, 20157 Milan, Italy. Email: irene.cetin@unimi.it

Abstract

Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential nutrients for a healthy diet. The different kinds consumed by the mother during gestation and lactation may influence pregnancy, fetal and also neonatal outcome. The amount of fatty acids transferred from mother to fetus depends not only on maternal metabolism but also on placental function, i.e. by the uptake, metabolism and then transfer of fatty acids to the fetus. The third trimester of gestation is characterized by an increase of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in the fetal circulation, in particular docosahexaenoic acid, especially to support brain growth and visual development. These mechanisms may be altered in pathological conditions, such as intrauterine growth restriction and diabetes, when maternal and fetal plasma levels of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids undergo significant changes. The aim of this review is to describe the maternal and placental factors involved in determining fetal fatty acid availability and metabolism, focusing on the specific role of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in normal and pathological pregnancies.

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