NMU 123 – Omega 3 improves pregnancy outcomes
Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 123 (March 21, 2019)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Omega-3 Fats Improve Pregnancy Outcomes
Source: Journal of Nutrition (November 2018)
An important double-blind randomized controlled study was published in the Journal of Nutrition in November of 2018, showing that supplementing pregnant women with Omega-3 Fats during the third trimester is associated with improved pregnancy outcomes, regarding prolonged pregnancy and higher infant birth weight. The study included 736 pregnant women and their offspring. One group of women began taking a daily Omega-3-Fat supplement (2.4 gm or 2,400 mg) between weeks 22 and 26 and continued until one week after the birth of their child. The placebo group ingested a supplement containing olive oil. The results showed that women taking the Omega-3-Fat supplement had a longer pregnancy (gestational period), increased intrauterine growth of the fetus, and their infants had a higher (97 gm) and healthier birth weight.
Previous data from the Kansas University DHA Outcome Study (KUDOS) indicated that supplementation with 600 mg/day of DHA (an Omega-3-Fat) during the last two trimesters of pregnancy led to a significant reduction in preterm births. In line with this, a report by Australian researchers using data from the “DHA to Optimize Mother and Infant Outcome trial” (DOMinO) indicated that DHA supplementation was associated with 15% lower rates of preterm births. Even more impressive, the results of the Cochrane Review paper in November 2018, which reviewed more than 70 controlled trials found that supplementation with the Omega-3-Fats, DHA and EPA (both found in fish oil supplements), cut the risk of early preterm (less than 32 weeks) birth by 42%, cut the risk of a preterm birth (34-37 weeks) by 11% and reduced by 10% the risk of having a small baby (less than 2,500 gm). Other studies have shown the higher intake of DHA by women prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy and during the lactation phase – post-delivery is associated with higher IQ levels in their offspring. This is likely because DHA is a crucial nutrient for the brain development of the fetus and the newborn.
It may be a while before all pediatricians recommend Omega-3 fatty acid supplements (containing EPA and DHA) to their pregnant patients, but in the meantime, it is worth discussing this research with your attending physician once a pregnancy in a progress. The evidence continues to suggest that Omega-3-Fat Supplementation (from a supplement containing EPA and DHA) during pregnancy may help to decrease the risk of preterm birth, support fetal intrauterine growth and brain development and improve the birth weight of the newborn. Continuing to take a supplement of this nature after delivery helps to ensure more optimal DHA levels in breast milk, which has been shown to be vital in supporting the infant’s brain development, especially in the first three months after birth. Those Omega-3-Fats are really something!
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
1. Kofod Vinding R, Stokholm J, et al. Fish oil supplementation in pregnancy increases gestational age, size for gestational age, and birth weight in infants: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nutrition. November 9, 2018, https://academic.oup.com/jn/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jn/nxy204/5167900?redirectedFrom=fulltext
2. Kudos Study: Department of Dietetics and Nutrition Kansas City Medical Center: University of Kansas: http://www.kumc.edu/school-of-health-professions/dietetics-and-nutrition/our-faculty/carlson.html
3. Australian Study: Ahmed S, Makrides M et al. Analysis of hospital cost outcome of DHA-rich fish-oil supplementation in pregnancy: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. Dec 2015: 102-103. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26432510
4. Cochrane Review: Omega-3 fatty acid during pregnancy. November 15, 2018, https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003402.pub3/full
5. DHA and Brain Development: American Pregnancy Association: https://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/omega-3-supplements-baby/
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