Genetic Variations in Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Metabolism – Implications for Child Health?
Sufficient nutritional supply with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) has long been considered as beneficial for child health, especially in regard to neuronal development and allergic diseases. In recent years, genetic association studies showed that in addition to nutritional influences, the genetic background is highly important for PUFA composition in human tissues. Specifically, polymorphisms in the fatty acid desaturase genes or FADS determine the efficiency of how PUFAs are processed endogenously. Recent gene-nutrition interaction studies suggest that these polymorphisms modulatethe effect of nutritional fatty acid intake on complex phenotypes such as cognitive outcomes and asthma risk in children. These early results may provide the basis for future well-specified dietary recommendations to achieve optimal health benefit for all children. This article presents results from recent gene-nutrition interaction studies, discusses its implications for child health, and gives an outlook how this association might translate into clinical practice in the future.