Neonatal fatty acid profiles are correlated with infant growth measures at 6 months

P. F. O'Tierney-Ginn, D. Davina, M. Gillingham, D. J.P. Barker, C. Morris, K. L. Thornburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Rapid weight gain in infancy and low levels of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) at birth are associated with increased adiposity later in life. The association between placental LCPUFA delivery and weight gain in infancy is poorly understood. We sought to determine the relationships between maternal phenotype, placental fatty acid transporter expression and offspring growth patterns over the first 6 months. Placental tissue and cord blood were collected at term delivery from women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Offspring body composition measurements were recorded 1 day and 6 months after birth. Body mass index (BMI) z-scores were determined using World Health Organization 2006 reference data. Body phenotype patterns were compared among offspring who had an increase in BMI z-score and those who had a decrease. High skinfold thickness at birth and positive change in BMI z-scores during infancy were associated with low neonatal n-3 LCPUFA plasma levels (r=-0.46, P=0.046) and high saturated fatty acids levels (r=0.49, P=0.034). Growth of skinfolds over 6 months of age was associated with placental fatty acid transporter gene expression. Change in BMI z-score in the first 6 months of life correlated with arm muscle area growth, a measure of lean mass (r=0.62, P=0.003), but not with growth in skinfold thickness. Early infancy weight gain was associated with poor plasma LCPUFA status at birth, and fat deposition in infancy was related to changes in placental lipid handling. Thus, neonatal fatty acid profiles may influence the trajectory of infant growth and fat and lean mass deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-482
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • adiposity
  • fatty acids
  • infant growth
  • placenta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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