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Revista chilena de pediatría

Print version ISSN 0370-4106


VALENZUELA B., Alfonso  and  NIETO K., Susana. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in perinatal nutrition: their importance in the development of the nervous and visual systems. Rev. chil. pediatr. [online]. 2003, vol.74, n.2, pp.149-157. ISSN 0370-4106.

The large chain polysaturated fatty acids omega-6; arachidonic acid, and omega-3; docosahexaenoic acid, are fundamental in the formation of the structure and the function of the human nervous and visual systems. These fatty acids form more than 30% of the lipid content of the brain and of the cones and rods of the retina. Their function is to provide a high grade of fluidity to the cell membrane, permiting the movement of proteins on the surface and within the lipid bilayer. These fatty acids are formed from smaller chain precursors principally in the liver, linoleic acid going to form arachidonic acid and linolenic acid forming docosahexanic acid. During the third trimester of pregnancy and the first 6 months of life large amounts of both fatty acids are needed. Hepatic production is not sufficient to meet the demand of these fatty acids, and additional support is needed, by transplacental transfer during pregnancy and from the maternal milk thereafter. This comes from the mothers tissue reserves, biochemical synthesis in the maternal liver and dietary support in the form of fatty acid precursors. Thus the dietary content of precursor and formed fatty acids are vitally important for the formation of the nervous and visual systems. Alterations in the function of these 2 systems in children who have not received an adequate intake of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated. It is suggested that milk formulas are supplemented with omega 6 and 3 fatty acids or their precursors

Keywords : perinatal nutrition; omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids; linoleic and linolenic acid.

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