Right on Time: Why Pregnant Women Should Take Omega-3s

Preganant Women Should Take Omega-3sIf you’re expecting, you know the importance of a full-term pregnancy. Babies who mature in their mamas’ wombs until at least 37 weeks are healthier at birth, have better vision and are better able to learn as children. Currently, there aren’t a lot of interventions that have been shown to help babies stay put. But now, a review of 70 randomized clinical trials has concluded that when mothers get enough Omega-3s, their babies are more likely to be born on time.*[i],[ii]

The paper, published in the prestigious Cochrane Reviews, analyzed data from studies that enrolled almost 20,000 pregnant women. (That’s a lot!) In each study, the researchers considered how maternal consumption of Omega-3s, especially DHA and EPA, affected the babies’ health.

One of the biggest impacts was found in the area of preterm birth. Omega-3s, from both food and supplements:

  • Reduced the risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks) by 11 percent*
  • Lowered the risk of early premature birth (before 34 weeks) by 42 percent*
  • Lessened the risk of low birth weight (under 2,500 grams, about five and half pounds) by 10 percent*

So what’s the ideal dose? Five hundred to 1,000 mg of DHA plus EPA per day, with at least 500 mg as DHA. Between a healthy diet and a quality supplement, that’s totally doable.

And here’s the crazy part. In their conclusions, the researchers noted that the evidence for Omega-3s preventing premature labor was so strong that no further research on the question was needed. If you spend much time reading scientific studies, you know that’s something scientists barely ever say! Instead, they said future studies should focus more on the long-term benefits to children when their mothers take Omega-3s during pregnancy. Sounds like a good plan!

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


[1] Gray N. Nutraingredients. 2018 Nov 19.


[11] Middleton P, et al. Cochrane Rev.  2018 Nov 15.