Omega-3 fatty acids beneficial in pregnancy

Omega-3 fatty acids beneficial in pregnancy

Clinical question

How effective are omega‐3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, as supplements or dietary additions, during pregnancy on maternal, perinatal, and neonatal outcomes, and longer‐term outcomes for mother and child?

Bottom line

Omega‐3 LCPUFA, particularly docosahexaenoic acid, supplementation during pregnancy reduced preterm birth and early preterm birth, with low cost and little indication of harm. There was a possible reduced risk of perinatal death and of neonatal care admission, a reduced risk of low birthweight babies, and a possible small increased risk of large-for-gestational-age babies with omega‐3 LCPUFA. The effect on most child development and growth outcomes was minimal or uncertain.


Most trials were conducted in upper‐middle or high‐income countries, and nearly half the trials included women at increased/high risk for factors that might increase the risk of adverse maternal and birth outcomes.


Higher intakes of foods containing omega‐3 LCPUFA, such as fish, during pregnancy have been associated with longer gestations and improved perinatal outcomes.

Cochrane Systematic Review

Middleton P et al. Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Reviews, 2018, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD003402.DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD003402.pub3. This review contains 70 studies involving 19,927 participants.