Researchers have found that expectant mothers who take omega-3 fatty acids throughout their pregnancies have a reduced risk of giving birth prematurely.
A longer pregnancy means the unborn baby has more developmental time in the womb, which may help reduce the time spent in hospital after the birth and may also improve the baby’s future health.
Lead author of the study, nutritionist Susan Carlson said: "It didn't reduce all pre-term births but reduced the riskiest pre-term births.”
The researchers studied 350 women who were between two months and five months pregnant. They supplied half the women with 200 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acid capsules and instructed them to take one capsule three times a day. The remaining women in the study group were given placebo capsules with the same instructions.
When the researchers reviewed the women’s deliveries, they discovered the group who took the omega-3 fatty acid supplement gave birth to babies who were larger and delivered around three days later than the group who received the placebo.
Professor of human nutrition Maria Makrides said: "It seems that one of the very few consistent effects of fish oil and other marine oil supplementation in pregnancy is to increase duration of pregnancy by two to three days.”
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