Role of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in fetal programming

Nirajan Shrestha, Simone L. Sleep, James S.M. Cuffe, Olivia J. Holland, Anthony V. Perkins, Suk Yu Yau, Andrew J. McAinch, Deanne H. Hryciw (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal nutrition plays a critical role in fetal development and can influence adult onset of disease. Linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are major omega-6 (n-6) and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), respectively, that are essential in our diet. LA and ALA are critical for the development of the fetal neurological and immune systems. However, in recent years, the consumption of n-6 PUFA has increased gradually worldwide, and elevated n-6 PUFA consumption may be harmful to human health. Consumption of diets with high levels of n-6 PUFA before or during pregnancy may have detrimental effects on fetal development and may influence overall health of offspring in adulthood. This review discusses the role of n-6 PUFA in fetal programming, the importance of a balance between n-6 and n-3 PUFAs in the maternal diet, and the need of further animal models and human studies that critically evaluate both n-6 and n-3 PUFA contents in diets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-915
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • essential fatty acid
  • fetal programming
  • linoleic acid
  • maternal nutrition
  • sex ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology (medical)


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