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Low Omega-3 Levels May Increase Risk of Preterm Birth

A recent study suggests that pregnant women with low blood levels of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in their first two trimesters may be at a significantly higher risk of preterm birth.


For this study, researchers examined data from the Danish National Birth Cohort, a nationwide study that followed 96,000 children in Denmark. They looked specifically at blood samples from 376 women who gave birth prematurely between 1996 and 2003, and blood samples from 348 women who had a full-term birth.


After examining the blood samples, the researchers found that the women with the lowest levels of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty-acids (1.6% or less) were at a 10 times higher risk of early preterm birth when compared with women with the highest levels (1.8% or higher). When they looked specifically at women who were in the lowest group for both the first and second trimester, they found that they were 48 times more likely to have a preterm birth compared to those in the higher groups.


The researchers also noted that the threshold effect for DHA and EPA concentrations was between 2.0% and 2.5%.


Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Statens Serum Institut in Denmark led the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 3, 2018, in EBioMedicine.


Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s. For people who don’t like fish, consider taking a daily high-quality non-fish supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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