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Excess essential fatty acids in pregnancy may lead to cardiovascular disease in children

Posted:  Friday, August 28, 2015

Essential fatty acids (EFA) are in essence important since the body can’t synthesise them and hence they are widely recommended in pregnancy. In theory, EFAs are shown to program and help child development. However, a recent study warned against excess intake as it could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the offspring.

The long-term study was conducted by researchers at Maastricht UMC+. The researchers evaluated the concentration of maternal fatty acids in a group of pregnant women (in 1989) and 7 years later (in 1996) studied the children for risk factors of CVD.

They found that the touted beneficial effects of EFA were not applicable in the unborn child. Testing the children in the year 1996 revealed that certain omega-3 fatty acids in the mothers adversely affected the cholesterol levels in the child. Omega-6 fatty acids seemed to exert a negative effect on the child’s blood pressure and body mass index.

“Raising awareness of the importance of nutrition, and particularly for the consumption of fatty acids during pregnancy, can in theory help to program and influence the child development,” said the lead researcher.

The children enrolled in the study are now 25 years of age. The researchers plan to take the study further to find out if the concentration of fatty acids during pregnancy had any effect on the development of obesity and academic performance in these kids.

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