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Impact of erythrocyte long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in early pregnancy on birth outcomes: findings from a Belgian cohort study



To examine the association between maternal erythrocyte long-chain omega-3 PUFA (n-3 LCPUFA), measured in early pregnancy, and pregnancy and birth outcomes.

Study Design

One hundred and eight healthy women with a singleton pregnancy were included. Erythrocyte fatty acids were analyzed using gas chromatography. Gestational length, birth anthropometric measures, and pregnancy-associated complications were collected from hospital medical records.


We observed significant positive associations between maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels (p = 0.024) and omega-3 index values (p = 0.021) and gestational length in adjusted linear regression models. Each point in maternal DHA level was associated with 2.19 days longer gestational duration (β = 2.19; 95% CI 0.29–4.09). No consistent associations were found between n-3 PUFA levels and composite pregnancy outcome.


These findings suggest that the gestational length is positively affected by maternal n-3 LCPUFA status as soon as the early stages of pregnancy.

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We would like to thank Florence Bernardy and Elisabetha Prato from the CHR Liège Hospital for their assistance in the data collection.


This research was funded by the medical analysis laboratory Roman Païs (Belgium) (, Metagenics Europe ( and University of Liège (Belgium) ( The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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Authors and Affiliations



AH was involved in the research design and the coordination of the survey, and drafted the manuscript. She also conducted the data collection with the help of MT and under the supervision of MN and SD. MN and SD were also involved in the research design. AFD and ND performed the statistical analyses and took part in the critical discussion of the results. MN contributed to the critical revision and intellectual content of the manuscript. MG and VC as the promoters of the study supervised the entire work and finalized the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final version.

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Correspondence to Axelle Hoge.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving human subjects were approved by the Ethics Committee of the CHR Citadelle Hospital of Liège, Belgium (B412201526650). Written informed consent was obtained from all pregnant women.

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Hoge, A., Donneau, AF., Dardenne, N. et al. Impact of erythrocyte long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in early pregnancy on birth outcomes: findings from a Belgian cohort study. J Perinatol 40, 488–496 (2020).

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