Omega-3 supplementation in obese pregnant women


In developed countries, the incidence of obesity and overweight has reached epidemic levels. Two-thirds of women in the United States are currently overweight or obese at the time of conception and this is important, among other reasons, because infants born to obese mothers are at increased risk for developing obesity and a metabolic disorder in later life. Therefore, maternal obesity may be a significant factor in perpetuating the obesity epidemic.

Lipid (fats) metabolism differs greatly between lean and obese pregnant women. Fetal lipid supply is regulated by maternal circulating concentrations and by the extent to which they are transported by the placenta. On one hand, the placentas of obese women accumulate lipids that may alter fetal lipid exposure and, on the other hand, it has been shown that high levels of triglycerides in maternal circulation may accelerate their transport and deposition in fetal tissues. So, maternal obesity can directly impact fetal lipid exposure.

How omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy affects lipid metabolism in the placentas of overweight and obese women? Supplementing overweight and obese women with omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy (2 g of DHA plus EPA daily from early pregnancy to term) inhibits the ability of the placenta to store lipids. In this way, omega-3 supplementation may help to reduce the fetal lipid exposure.




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