Master of Science (MS)


Human Ecology

Document Type



Maternal supply of nutrients is critical for the developing fetus during all stages of gestation. The altered lipid metabolism that is often seen in pregnancies complicated by obesity and insulin resistance may negatively impact maternal supply to the fetus. More women are entering pregnancy overweight or obese and recently body mass index (BMI) has been found to be a positive predictor for decreased maternal plasma phospholipid concentrations of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). These nutrients play important roles in early development and their availability is critical to fetal growth and development. The purpose of the present study was to assess if maternal serum fatty acids in the second trimester of pregnancy are associated with BMI. Serum samples are frequently stored after blood draws during pregnancy and the availability of these samples provided the opportunity to examine if serum samples collected from non-fasting, pregnant women could provide information similar to what has previously been reported for BMI and fatty acid status in pregnancy. Sera from 265 women from the Foundation for Blood Research (FBR, Maine) were analyzed for fatty acid content using gas chromatography. The BMIs of each participant around 13-18 weeks of gestation were provided by FBR. Participants were grouped by BMI category and fatty acid concentrations were compared across BMI categories. There were significant differences for weight percent of the LCPUFA eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) as well as for the total ω3 LCPUFA. In this data set BMI was a negative predictor of maternal serum concentrations of DHA and EPA. These results support previous findings for fatty acids in plasma phospholipids of pregnant women. We conclude that increased BMI may negatively impact maternal LCPUFA concentrations and stored sera may be used to further assess this relationship.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Carol J. Lammi-Keefe



Included in

Human Ecology Commons