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Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy: current implications for practice

Mozurkewich, Ellen L.a; Klemens, Chelseab

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: March 2012 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 72–77
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0b013e328350fd34

Purpose of review We conducted this review to evaluate the evidence for maternal supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy for the prevention or treatment of common complications of pregnancy including preterm birth, pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, as well as perinatal depression. We also evaluated the evidence supporting maternal omega-3 fatty acid supplementation to optimize infant neurocognitive development and for primary prevention of allergic diseases in childhood.

Recent findings Omega-3 fatty acids through diet or dietary supplementation may reduce the risk for early preterm birth. Preliminary findings from small randomized controlled trials suggest that maternal omega-3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy may reduce the risk for allergic disease in childhood, but this observation requires confirmation by large appropriately powered randomized controlled trials. More research is needed before routine maternal supplementation for this indication can be recommended.

Summary Although it is biologically plausible that maternal omega-3 fatty acid supplementation might prevent a number of pregnancy complications and optimize child health and development, indications for supplementation other than prevention of preterm births are currently investigational.

aDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Maternal–Fetal Medicine, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

bMichigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Correspondence to Ellen L. Mozurkewich, MD, MS, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, MSC10 5580, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA. Tel: +1 505 272 6392; fax: +1 505 272 3921; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.