Smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy affects preterm infants' docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) status

Smuts C.M. ; Tichelaar H.Y. ; Dhansay M.A. ; Faber M. ; Smith J. ; Kirsten G.F. (1999)


This study investigated the effect of alcohol consumption and smoking during pregnancy on the fatty acid composition of the infants. A total of 40 very-low-birth-weight (VLBW) infants, weighing between 750 and 1500g, were enrolled in the study after being hospitalized and ventilated for respiratory distress syndrome (RDS). Maternal and infant demographic information was recorded. Questions regarding maternal smoking (none, <10 and ≥10 cigarettes/d) and alcohol consumption (none, occasionally, moderate and severe) were recorded. Erythrocyte membrane (EMB; n = 40) total fatty acid analyses were performed at birth (baseline) and on days 14 and 28 postnatally. During pregnancy, 42% of mothers consumed alcohol and 50% smoked. At birth, infants of mothers who smoked and consumed alcohol during pregnancy, had significantly higher blood docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; p < 0.05) than infants of mothers who abstained from both alcohol and smoking. The consequences of this finding remain unknown.

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