The effect of severe pre-eclampsia on maternal and cord erythrocyte membrane essential fatty acid profiles
Objective. To examine the effect of severe pre-eclampsia on maternal and cord erythrocyte membrane essential fatty acid profiles. Design. Clinical trial. Setting. Obstetric High Care Unit, Tygerberg Hospital. Patients. Erythrocyte membrane (EM) essential fatty acid profiles were determined in 17 women with severe preeclampsia, in 17 normotensive pregnant women, and in the cord blood of their respective infants. Results. Pre-eclamptic women had lower EM phosphatidylcholine linoleic acid (C18:2n-6; LA) and cclinolenic acid (C18:3n-3; ALA) levels and lower EM phosphatidylethanolamine ALA levels than the normotensive women with lower cord blood docosahexaenoic acid levels (C22:6n-3; DHA) in both phospholipid fractions. All cord blood arachidonic acid (C20:4n-6; AA) levels were higher than the maternal levels. Conclusions. Pre-eclamptic women have lower LA and ALA levels than normotensive pregnant women, but AA and DHA levels in the two groups are similar. The cord blood DHA levels of infants of pre-eclamptic women are lower than those of the infants of normotensive women. Infants born to pre-eclamptic women may need dietary DHA to replenish DHA stores. This can be obtained from breast-milk or from a formula enriched with DHA.