Pregnant women taking DHA, an omega-3 essential fatty acid found in fish oil, are less likely to give birth early and their babies score higher in some health parameters compared to women who did not take the supplement, according to a study released in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

350 pregnant women were given capsules containing either DHA or a placebo starting midway through their pregnancy. As well as carrying their babies for longer, the babies of women given DHA supplements weighed slightly more and were less inclined to spend time in the intensive care unit.

Among preterm infants (born before 37 weeks), those in the DHA group spent an average of 9 days in hospital compared with 41 days in the placebo group.

“A reduction in early preterm and very low birth weight could be important clinical and public health outcomes of DHA supplementation,”

said the study’s authors. This study adds to mounting evidence in favour of omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy to support the brain, visual, nervous and immune systems of developing and newborn babies.

A trial amongst 2000 pregnant women and infants found that those born to women supplemented with DHA had fewer colds and shorter illnesses.

“Our findings indicate that pregnant women taking 400 mg of DHA are more likely to deliver healthier infants”

said researchers.

DHA makes up about 30% of the fatty tissue in the brain and eyes, which is why it’s so important for pregnant women. As they pass on the valuable nutrient to their developing babies, their needs may increase.

Omega-3 for Pregnancy and Infant Development

Watch the short clip below to hear Stuart Tomc, CNHP, explain why Omega-3 is so important for pregnancy and infant development below.