The effect of maternal DHA supplementation on expression of key genes and proteins involved in Fe metabolism and mineral placenta content was evaluated for the first time.

One hundred and ten pregnant women were randomly assigned to one of the groups: control (n = 54, 400 ml/day of the control dairy drink; DHA-supplemented (n = 56, 400 ml/day of the DHA-enriched dairy drink). Placenta DMT1, FPN1, TfR1 and Hamp1 mRNA and protein expressions were analysed. Hepcidin concentration in the mother and umbilical cord and placenta mineral content were assessed. DMT1, FPN1, TfR1 and Hamp1 gene expressions together with serum hepcidin increased in umbilical cord and artery of the DHA-supplemented group.

In this group, Fe concentration increased in plasma, umbilical cord vein and artery. Ca concentrations raised in umbilical cord vein and artery, Cu, V and Mn levels. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation improved transplacental Fe homeostasis, enhancing Fe transfer and boosting neonates Fe stores at delivery.