Increasing omega-3 intake during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth.
A new study found that increasing omega-3 consumption during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth.
Premature births are the leading cause of death among children under the age of five worldwide, with nearly one million deaths a year. Premature babies are at higher risk for long-term conditions such as visual impairment, developmental delay or learning difficulties.
15 million babies born too early each year
"We know that premature birth is a real global health problem, with about 15 million babies born too early each year," says Philippa Middleton, associate professor at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). "The sooner a baby is born, the greater the risk of death or poor health," she adds.
His team studied omega-3 fatty acids and their role in reducing the risk of premature birth, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in oily fish and oil supplements of fish. The results of 70 randomized trials were compiled. Conclusions: For pregnant women, increasing daily intake of omega-3:
- reduces the risk of having a premature baby by 11%.
- Reduces the risk of having an early premature baby (under 34 weeks) by 42%.
- reduces the risk of having a small baby (less than 2500g) by 10%.
Great interest for researchers around the world
"There are not many options for preventing premature births, so these new discoveries are very important for pregnant women, babies and health professionals who care for them," the researchers conclude. "We do not yet fully understand the causes of premature labor, and it has always been difficult to predict and prevent early births, which is one of the reasons why taking omega-3s during pregnancy is great interest for researchers around the world, "they add.
Remember, however, that many supplements currently on the market are not effective. The review found that the optimal dose was a daily supplement containing between 500 and 1000 milligrams of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from 12 weeks of pregnancy.