Docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during pregnancy: A potential tool to prevent membrane rupture and preterm labor

Emanuela Pietrantoni, Federica Del Chierico, Giuliano Rigon, Pamela Vernocchi, Guglielmo Salvatori, Melania Manco, Fabrizio Signore, Lorenza Putignani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are required to maintain the fluidity, permeability and integrity of cell membranes. Maternal dietary supplementation with ω-3 PUFAs during pregnancy has beneficial effects, including increased gestational length and reduced risk of pregnancy complications. Significant amounts of ω-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are transferred from maternal to fetal blood, hence ensuring high levels of DHA in the placenta and fetal bloodstream and tissues. Fetal DHA demand increases exponentially with gestational age, especially in the third trimester, due to fetal development. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), a daily intake of DHA is recommended during pregnancy. Omega-3 PUFAs are involved in several anti-inflammatory, pro-resolving and anti-oxidative pathways. Several placental disorders, such as intrauterine growth restriction, premature rupture of membranes (PROM) and preterm-PROM (pPROM), are associated with placental inflammation and oxidative stress. This pilot study reports on a preliminary evaluation of the significance of the daily DHA administration on PROM and pPROM events in healthy pregnant women. Further extensive clinical trials will be necessary to fully elucidate the correlation between DHA administration during pregnancy and PROM/pPROM occurrence, which is related in turn to gestational duration and overall fetal health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8024-8036
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 7 2014


  • DHA supplementation
  • Fetal growth
  • Maternal and fetal health
  • Placental disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
  • Preterm-premature rupture of membranes (pPROM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Medicine(all)

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