Fatty acid supply to the human fetus

Paul Haggarty* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    252 Citations (Scopus)


    Deposition of fat in the fetus increases exponentially with gestational age, reaching its maximal rate-around 7 g/day or 90% of energy deposition-at term. In late pregnancy, many women consuming contemporary Western diets may not be able to meet the fetal demand for n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) from the diet alone. Numerous mechanisms have evolved to protect human offspring from extreme variation or deficiency in the maternal diet during pregnancy. Maternal adipose tissue is an important source of LCPUFA. Temporal changes in placental function are synchronized with maternal metabolic and physiological changes to ensure a continuous supply of n-3 and n-6 LCPUFA-enriched fat to the fetus. LCPUFA storage in fetal adipose tissue provides an important source of LCPUFA during the critical first months of postnatal life. An appreciation of these adaptations is important in any nutritional strategy designed to improve the availability of fatty acids to the fetus.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)237-255
    Number of pages19
    JournalAnnual Review of Nutrition
    Early online date3 May 2010
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


    Dive into the research topics of 'Fatty acid supply to the human fetus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this