Research: FACCHINETTI and co-authors,

Listed in Issue 119


FACCHINETTI and co-authors, Maternal-Infantile Department, OU of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy, have reviewed polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of premature birth. Abstract: Premature birth is characterized both by increased neonatal morbidity and mortality and by important late pathological sequelae. In the past few years some epidemiological studies have shown that diet may interfere with complex multifactorial processes contributing to the premature triggering of labour. The attention has been focused on polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) such as alpha-linoleic acid, precursor of the n-3 series, and linolenic acid, the pre-cursor of the n-6 series. It has been reported that in premature birth the endogenous levels of PUFA are unbalanced, with an n-6 predominance. Experimental, observational and clinical studies suggest that dietary intake of n-3 fatty acids is capable of significantly prolonging the duration of gestation in the range of 4-7 days; such a prolongation would possibly occur through the inhibition of prostaglandins E2 and F2 alpha. In Western populations dietary intake of n-3 appears to be marginal, and recommended intakes could be reached only by a ten-fold increase in oily fish ingestion. The recommended intake of EPA + DHA should be 1.4 g/daily with a 1:2.5 EPA:DHA ratio. It is therefore possible to conclude that in the light of controlled clinical studies and of the actual categories of risk for premature delivery, the dietary supplementation of n-3 fatty acids could be implemented for the secondary and tertiary prophylaxis of preterm delivery.






Facchinetti F, Fazzio M, Venturini P. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of preterm delivery. European Review for Medical & Pharmacological Sciences 9 (1): 41-48, Jan-Feb 2005.

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