Premature births can be dangerous and have life-long effects. It is the best for the baby to stay inside for as long as possible in order for him to fully develop in the womb. Now scientists from the University of Adelaide found an interesting way to reduce the risk of premature birth. They found that an increased intake of omega-3 long-chain fatty acids during pregnancy can help baby stay inside for a full term.

Keeping the baby in his mom for a full term helps avoiding a number of health complications. Image credit: Pixabay via Wikimedia

Medical science has made tremendous advancements in the last couple of decades. The chances of survival for premature babies are higher than they’ve ever been. However, complications of premature birth are still the leading cause of death for children under five years of age. Premature babies are at a greater risk of chronic issues with their respiratory, immune and digestive systems. And even is doctors and parents are able to ensure a good health of the child, it is still likely to suffer from problems with speech, social skills, learning and behaviour.

Now scientists assessed the combined results of 70 trials involving almost 20,000 women around the world in order to see what can be done with Omega-3 fatty acid in terms of reducing the risk of premature birth. Scientists found that supplements, containing between 500 and 1000 milligrams of omega-3 with at least 500 milligrams of the omega-3 called DHA, can reduce the risk of birth before 37 weeks by 11 %, and reduces the risk of birth before 34 weeks by 42 %. Interestingly, although not definitively confirmed, this has been a common belief in the pharmaceuticals industry. Many pregnant women are already taking supplements with Omega-3 fatty acids, because they are included in a lot of over-the-counter pregnancy supplements.

Scientists suggest pregnant women should start taking these supplements at the 12-week stage of their pregnancy. Reducing the risk of premature births at least a little bit would be a tremendously great achievement. South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade, said: “Supporting premature babies in intensive care and treating on-going challenges related to premature birth places significant pressure on families, the community and the health system”.

Omega-3 can be found in food too – flaxseeds, fish, oysters, walnuts, chia seeds, caviar and various other foods are rich in these fatty acids. Supplements are a good option too as some food product may be not recommended by the doctor – consultations are always required. Regardless of the method of taking it, Omega-3 seems to be a reliable way to reduce the risk of premature birth.


Source: University of Adelaide