Effect of maternal n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy and/or lactation on adiposity in childhood: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

N. Stratakis*, M. Gielen, L. Chatzi, M.P.A. Zeegers

*Corresponding author for this work

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    It is hypothesized that prenatal and early postnatal exposure to n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) is negatively associated with adiposity later in life. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate whether maternal n-3 LCPUFA supplementation in pregnancy and/or lactation exerts a beneficial effect on adiposity status in childhood. We searched six electronic databases till 20 May 2014 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation to pregnant and/or lactating women that reported data on body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, sum of skinfold thicknesses or body fat mass in children. Adiposity measures were grouped into three age categories: preschool children (<5 years), school-aged children (6-12 years), and adolescents (>13 years). Trial quality was assessed. We conducted fixed-effect and random-effects meta-analyses to combine study-specific estimates of differences between the supplemented and control groups. A total of 6 RCTs (9 publications) involving 2847 participants were included. Summary estimates showed no effect of maternal supplementation on BMI in preschool (standardized mean difference (SMD)=0.07, 95% confidence interval (CI)=-0.22, 0.36, P=0.65) and school-aged children (SMD=0.12, 95% CI=-0.06, 0.30, P=0.20). Because of sparse data, it was not possible to pool study results relating to other adiposity measures. There is currently no evidence to support that n-3 LCPUFA supplementation during pregnancy and/or lactation favourably affects child adiposity. Further high-quality trials are needed.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 13 August 2014; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.158.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1277-1287
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


    • INFANT
    • GROWTH
    • SIZE
    • AGE

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