Thursday, October 13, 2022

OMEGA 3: A new option to prevent prematurity?

 The conclusion of this new Cochrane review is full of implications, while one in 10 births is premature, prematurity is the leading cause of death in children under 5 worldwide and causes nearly a million deaths per year: increasing the intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA: Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids) during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature delivery. While predicting and preventing premature births has always been a challenge, would omega-3s be a new option to prevent prematurity?

Experts from the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group point out that babies born prematurely are at higher risk of developing various long-term conditions and conditions, including among the most common, delayed development, visual disturbances, and difficulties of learning. Premature birth is a critical global health issue, with around 15 million babies born too early each year, says Philippa Middleton Associate Professor at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI): Babies are considered premature when they are born before 37 weeks and the earlier a baby is born, the higher the risk of death or poor health”.

Here researchers examine the role of omega-3 fatty acids in reducing the risk of preterm birth, and, in particular, that of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in fatty fish and fish supplements. Their review looks at 70 randomized trials and concludes that daily omega3 intake in pregnant women has positive effects:

This contribution reduces by 11% the risk of having a premature baby (less than 37 weeks) from 134/1,000 to 119/1,000 births;

it reduces by 42% the risk of having a premature baby (less than 34 weeks) from 46 per 27/1,000 births;

it reduces the risk of having a low birth weight baby (less than 2500 g) by 10%;

A new option to prevent prematurity? It is true that we lack options to prevent premature births, so this discovery seems very important for pregnant women, babies and health professionals. Omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy is of great interest to researchers around the world and this new updated review concludes that there is high-quality evidence that omega-3 supplementation is an effective strategy to prevent pregnancy loss. premature birth.

In the United Kingdom, this is already the case: many pregnant women already take omega-3 supplements but more by personal choice rather than on the advice of health professionals, explains the author. “But beware,” she adds, “many supplements on the market today don't contain the optimal dose or type of omega-3 to prevent premature birth. The optimal dose is a daily supplement containing between 500 and 1,000 milligrams (mg) of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (containing at least 500 mg of DHA) and is to be taken from 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This review could therefore go a long way in spurring health authorities to reconsider omega-3s to reduce premature birth, which remains one of the most difficult maternal and child health problems to solve in any country in the world.