Correlates of whole-blood polyunsaturated fatty acids among young children with moderate acute malnutrition

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) has been associated with low polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status. However, investigations regarding PUFA status and correlates in children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) from low-income countries are scarce. The aim of this study was to describe whole-blood PUFA levels in children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) and to identify correlates of PUFAs.

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study using baseline data from a prospective nutritional intervention trial among 1609 children with MAM aged 6-23 months in Burkina Faso,West Africa. Whole-blood PUFAs were measured by gas chromatography and expressed as percent of total whole-blood fatty acids (FA%). Potential correlates of PUFAs including infection, inflammation, hemoglobin, anthropometry (difference between children diagnosed as having MAM based on low mid-upper-arm-circumference (MUAC) only, low MUAC and weight-for-height z-score (WHZ), or low WHZ only) and diet were assessed by linear regression adjusted for age and sex.

RESULTS: Children with MAM had low concentrations of whole-blood PUFAs, particularly n-3 PUFAs. Moreover, children diagnosed with MAM based only on low MUAC had 0.32 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.14; 0.50) and 0.40 (95% CI, 0.16; 0.63) FA% lower arachidonic acid (AA) than those recruited based on both low WHZ as well as low MUAC and those recruited with low WHZ only, respectively. Infection and inflammation were associated with low levels of all long-chain (LC)-PUFAs, while hemoglobin was positively associated with whole-blood LC-PUFAs.

CONCLUSION: While PUFA deficiency was not a general problem, overall whole-blood PUFA concentrations, especially of n-3 PUFAs, were low. Infection, inflammation, hemoglobin, anthropometry and diet were correlates of PUFAs concentrations in children with MAM.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial is registered at ( ISRCTN42569496 ).

Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalNutrition Journal
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Essential fatty acids, Undernourished children, Diet, Morbidity

Number of downloads are based on statistics from Google Scholar and

No data available

ID: 181935803