Association of whole blood n-6 fatty acids with stunting in 2-to-6-year-old Northern Ghanaian children: A cross-sectional study

Mary Adjepong, C. Austin Pickens, Raghav Jain, William Harris, Reginald A. Annan, Jenifer I. Fenton

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9 Scopus citations


In Northern Ghana, 33% of children are stunted due to economic disparities. Dietary fatty acids (FA) are critical for growth, but whether blood FA levels are adequate in Ghanaian children is unknown. The objective of this study was to determine the association between whole blood FAs and growth parameters in Northern Ghanaian children 2–6 years of age. A drop of blood was collected on an antioxidant treated card and analyzed for FA composition. Weight and height were measured and z-scores were calculated. Relationships between FAs and growth parameters were analyzed by Spearman correlations, linear regressions, and factor analysis. Of the 307 children who participated, 29.7% were stunted and 8% were essential FA deficient (triene/tetraene ratio>0.02). Essential FA did not differ between stunted and non-stunted children and was not associated with height-for-age z-score (HAZ) or weight-for-age z-score (WAZ). In hemoglobin adjusted regression models, both HAZ and WAZ were positively associated with arachidonic acid (p0.01), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA, p0.05), docosatetraenoic acid (p0.01) and the ratio of DGLA/linoleic acid (p0.01). These data add to the growing body of evidence indicating n-6 FAs are critical in childhood linear growth. Our findings provide new insights into the health status of an understudied Northern Ghanaian population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0193301
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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