Omega-3 Supplements Can Help Prevent Premature Births
Taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplements, an omega-3 fatty acid may help prevent very short pregnancies or risky premature deliveries in pregnant women, according to a new study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Women in the US have been found to have shorter pregnancies compared to women from other developed countries. Furthermore, their babies also tend to have lower birth weights. For these reasons, lead author Susan Carlson a nutritionist at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City believes that the results of their study are important. She says that many women in the U.S. tend to avoid eating fish during pregnancy because of their mercury content, which can be toxic to the brain and nervous system of the baby. Because of this, many pregnant women have low blood levels of DHA, an essential fatty acid, which is not manufactured in the body and must be obtained by eating fatty fish.
In their study, Carlson and her colleagues randomly assigned 350 women between who were 8-20 weeks pregnant to take supplemental capsules of either 200 mg of algae-derived DHA, or placebo take three times a day until they gave birth. The results showed that women who took DHA supplements tended to deliver babies about three days later those who received placebo. They also had larger and heavier babies than women who did not take DHA. The placebo group also had more babies who were born after less than 34 weeks (5%) compared to the DHA group (1%). These differences were attributed to the changes in blood DHA levels, which were found to be significantly higher in those who received the supplements.
Experts advise that women should not disregard the benefits of eating fatty fish, which they can take up to two times a week, although they should avoid those which have high mercury content, such as mackerel, swordfish and shark.
Doyle, K. Omega-3 DHA May Prevent Earliest Preemies. Medscape.