The essential fatty acid (EFA) status of full-term infants born after an uneventful, singleton pregnancy has been reported to be marginal. If this low EFA status is caused by a limiting maternal EFA supply, the higher total fetal EFA demand associated with a multiple pregnancy would result in an even lower EFA status of the infants born after a multiple pregnancy. Therefore, we compared the EFA status at birth of 30 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and one set of quintuplets with that of 94 infants (51 preterm, 43 full-term) born after a singleton pregnancy. Phospholipid-associated EFA profiles of the umbilical vessel walls, considered a longer-term reflection of the fetal EFA status, were studied. After correction for gestational age at birth, levels of n-6 and n-3 EFAs were generally lower, while levels of EFA-deficiency indicating n-9 polyunsaturated fatty acids were significantly higher both in the draining umbilical arteries and the supplying veins of infants born after a multiple pregnancy. EFA profiles of twins and triplets were similar, but the average EFA status of the set of quintuplets was lower than that of twins and triplets. In conclusion, the observation that the EFA status of infants born after a multiple pregnancy is lower than that of infants born after a singleton pregnancy supports the view that the maternal EFA supply to the fetus is limiting. Considering the importance of EFAs and their longer chain derivatives for proper growth and development, this finding warrants further studies of the adequacy of the maternal EFA intake during pregnancy.
Foreman-van Drongelen, M. M. H. P., Zeijdner, E. E., van Houwelingen, A. C., Kester, A. D. M., Al, M. D. M., Hasaart, T. H. M., & Hornstra, G. (1996). Essential fatty acid status measured in umbilical vessel walls of infants born after a multiple pregnancy. Early Human Development, 46, 205-215. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-3782(96)01745-8