Pregnant women who use margarines and other processed foods that contain trans fatty acids derived from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils may be seriously damaging the development of their children.
Researchers evaluated the levels of trans fatty acids and long-chain polyunsaturated acids in the cord blood of 42 otherwise healthy, full-term infants. They found that a high maternal intake of trans fatty acids compromised levels of important fatty acids – such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), cholesterol esters and non-esterfied fatty acids – in infants at birth.
DHA is particularly necessary for the proper development of the brain and the retina. The researchers suggest that mothers who consume a lot of trans fatty acids during pregnancy may grow babies who have suboptimal insight as well as sight (Am J Clin Nutr, 2001; 74: 364-8).