The largest ever clinical study on omega-3 supplementation in pregnancy reveals a dramatic reduction in early births and improvements in infant health.
The trial of almost 2,400 pregnant women, supplemented with Omega 3 also showed a 35 per cent reduction in the incidence of low birth weight babies and the same percentage reduction in post natal depression.
Findings included a very significant reduction in the number of 'slow developers' among the infants born to omega-3 supplemented mothers - from 6.9 per cent to 2.7 per cent.
Dr Alex Richardson, senior research fellow at the Centre for Evidence Based Intervention, University of Oxford, and co-founder of the UK charity Food and Behaviour Research, says:
"Many previous studies have shown the importance of omega-3 essential fatty acids for the normal development and future health of the unborn baby, as well as the health of the mother. In this trial - the largest of its kind - highly significant reductions were found in many factors that can adversely affect children's development and well being over their lifetime - including pre-term delivery, low birth weight, and seriously delayed language and cognitive development.
"All expectant mums need to ensure a good dietary intake of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and seafood, and for any women who choose not to eat these foods, supplementation offers a safe and effective way to ensure an adequate supply."
Results also found a 35 per cent reduction in depression in the treated group during the first six months postpartum. With one in 10 believed to suffer from post natal depression, trial findings suggest that by supplementing with fish oils during pregnancy, almost 28,000 UK mums could potentially avoid post natal depression annually.
Most interestingly the general health of the supplemented infants appeared to be markedly better, as evidenced by other significant measures including: reductions of 61 per cent in infant serious adverse health events, 43 per cent in infant admissions to intensive care and even 66 per cent in the number of foetal/infant deaths.