A DHA functional food during pregnancy: Impact on maternal dietary intake, endocrine parameters and markers of infant body composition

Date of Completion

January 2006


Health Sciences, Nutrition




This research focused on the impact of a docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-functional food on maternal appetite, weight gain, infant birth weight and maternal and infant endocrine parameters associated with adiposity during pregnancy.^ Dietary intake was not impacted by consumption of a DHA-functional food during pregnancy. There were no differences between groups for DHA intake from dietary sources. The women consuming the DHA-functional food were obtaining an average of 214 mg/d more than women in the placebo group. There were no differences in plasma phospholipid (PL) DHA concentrations. However, the ratio of dietary total n-6:n-3 fatty acids was related to energy and fat intake during pregnancy. Women who consumed greater amounts of n-6 fatty acids had higher energy and fat intakes.^ Consumption of the DHA-functional food did not impact maternal weight gain in the last trimester of pregnancy. The change in maternal endocrine parameters from baseline to delivery, such as leptin and thyroid hormone, predicted maternal weight gain during pregnancy. Intervention group did not impact endocrine parameters or plasma PL DHA concentrations during pregnancy. ^ The ponderal index (grams/cm3) of infants born to mothers consuming the DHA-functional food during pregnancy was lower than that of infants of mothers consuming the placebo bar. There were no differences in birth weight. Ponderal index is more predictive of infant fatness than birth weight alone. Based on these results, it may be concluded that increased consumption of DHA during pregnancy may lead to leaner infants at birth. Of the hormones examined, insulin was associated with bar group participation. Infants born to mothers consuming the DHA-functional food had lower umbilical cord blood insulin concentrations than infants born to mothers consuming the placebo bar.^ In the mother, the ratio of n-6:n-3 fatty acids may decrease food intake, decrease weight gain and influence endocrine markers of adiposity. In the infant, maternal consumption of the DHA-functional food was associated with decreased ponderal index and cord blood insulin concentration at birth. Thus, infants may benefit from maternal consumption of a DHA-functional food during pregnancy because they are born leaner and therefore have lessened chances of obesity in adulthood. ^