Influence of maternal obesity and gestational weight gain on maternal and foetal lipid profile

Giulia Cinelli, Marta Fabrizi, Lucilla Ravà, Marta Ciofi Degli Atti, Pamela Vernocchi, Cristina Vallone, Emanuela Pietrantoni, Rosalba Lanciotti, Fabrizio Signore, Melania Manco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fatty acids (FAs) are fundamental for a foetus’s growth, serving as an energy source, structural constituents of cellular membranes and precursors of bioactive molecules, as well as being essential for cell signalling. Long-chain polyunsaturated FAs (LC-PUFAs) are pivotal in brain and visual development. It is of interest to investigate whether and how specific pregnancy conditions, which alter fatty acid metabolism (excessive pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) or gestational weight gain (GWG)), affect lipid supply to the foetus. For this purpose, we evaluated the erythrocyte FAs of mothers and offspring (cord-blood) at birth, in relation to pre-pregnancy BMI and GWG. A total of 435 mothers and their offspring (237 males, 51%) were included in the study. Distribution of linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA), and their metabolites, arachidonic acid, dihomogamma linoleic (DGLA) and ecosapentanoic acid, was significantly different in maternal and foetal erythrocytes. Pre-pregnancy BMI was significantly associated with maternal percentage of MUFAs (Coeff: -0.112; p = 0.021), LA (Coeff: -0.033; p = 0.044) and DHA (Coeff. = 0.055; p = 0.0016); inadequate GWG with DPA (Coeff: 0.637; p = 0.001); excessive GWG with docosaexahenoic acid (DHA) (Coeff. = -0.714; p = 0.004). Moreover, pre-pregnancy BMI was associated with foetus percentage of PUFAs (Coeff: -0.172; p = 0.009), omega 6 (Coeff: -0.098; p = 0.015) and DHA (Coeff: -0.0285; p = 0.036), even after adjusting for maternal lipids. Our findings show that maternal GWG affects maternal but not foetal lipid profile, differently from pre-pregnancy BMI, which influences both.

Original languageEnglish
Article number368
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 15 2016


  • Bioattenuation
  • Biomagnification
  • Fatty acids
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Gestational weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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