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Omega-3s help prevent pre-eclampsia and improve baby health, study finds 

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A newly published article in the Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (March 2022) has shown that supplementation with omega-3 in pregnancy can help to prevent preeclampsia, increase gestational duration, increase birth weight and decrease the risk of low birth weight and preterm birth (1).

The meta-analysis reviewed 59 randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials examined the effects of supplementation during pregnancy with oral omega-3 supplementation at least twice a week during pregnancy. 

Supplementation with omega-3s was shown to reduce the risk of preeclampsia by 16%, increase gestational duration by 1.4 days, increase newborn birth weight by 49 grams, and reduce the risk of preterm and early preterm delivery by 14% and 23%; revealing benefits to both maternal health and birth outcomes. 

This is in line with previous research (2) which found an apparent increase in infant birth weight in mothers that consume fish oil (or fish weekly) relative to no fish oil intake. This study found that fish oil supplementation from the 24th week of pregnancy led to a higher BMI in the offspring from 0 to 6 years of age, but not an increased risk of obesity at age 6. The body composition at age 6 years in children given fish oil supplementation was characterised by a proportional increase in lean, bone, and fat mass suggesting a general growth stimulating effect of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. 

Commenting on the findings, Pauline Cox MSc, functional nutritionist at fish oil supplement specialist Wiley’s Finest, said: “This research shows the importance of omega-3 essential fatty acids for both the mother and her baby. Omega-3s are also necessary for the proper growth and development of the baby’s brain, eyes, central nervous system and immune system while in the womb”. 

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