Background: Omega 3 (n-3) and 6 (n-6) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) and the n-3:n-6 ratio are important for brain development. Whether maternal LC-PUFA status during pregnancy affects risk of problem behavior in later childhood is unclear.
Methods: Within a population-based cohort, we measured maternal plasma docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and arachidonic acid (AA) concentrations and n-3:n-6-ratio in mid-pregnancy. Child emotional and behavioral problems at 6 y of age were assessed by parents, teachers, and combined parent/teacher report.
Results: Higher maternal DHA and n-3:n-6 ratio were associated with fewer child emotional problems using parent and combined parent/teacher scores. Higher AA was associated with more child behavioral problems using teacher and combined parent/teacher scores. Maternal EPA was not associated with child problem behavior.
Conclusion: Indications of associations of maternal LC-PUFA status with child emotional and behavioral problems were found. Future research is needed to identify LC-PUFA–sensitive periods of fetal brain development by including multiple assessments of prenatal LC-PUFA status.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL,
Journal Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology
Grant This work was funded by the European Commission 7th Framework Programme; grant id fp7/212652 - “Effect of diet on the mental performance of children” (NUTRIMENTHE)
Steenweg-de Graaff, J.C.J, Tiemeier, H.W, Basten, M.G, Rijlaarsdam, J, Demmelmair, H, Koletzko, B, … Roza, S.J. (2015). Maternal LC-PUFA status during pregnancy and child problem behavior: The Generation R Study. Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology, 77(3), 489–497. doi:10.1038/pr.2014.204