They are recommended in all diets but recently it has been discovered that an adequate daily dose of Omega-3 fats even during pregnancy can reduce the risk of premature births. A study, led by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in Adelaide, has evaluated the combined results of 70 trials involving more than 20,000 women worldwide. The research with the collaboration of the University and the Adelaide Children’s and Women’s Hospital has shown that Omega-3 supplements can reduce the risk of births before 37 weeks by 11% and births before 34 weeks by 42%. We talked about it with Dr. Federico Cirillo, gynecologist at Humanitas.
How many Omega-3s should be taken in order to be effective?
To be effective they should be taken from the 12th week of pregnancy as dietary supplements. The supplement must contain between 500 and 100 milligrams of Omega-3, and at least 500 milligrams of Omega-3 called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This is an extra caution but seems to be very effective as the complications of premature births are the leading cause of death below five years of age. A few more days inside the uterus can make a substantial difference.
“It is a very promising result because it offers strong evidence that Omega-3 supplements are a simple and low-cost intervention to prevent premature births, which have serious implications on the health of the newborn”, commented the deputy director of the Institute, Maria Makrides, who pointed out that premature babies are at higher risk of chronic diseases of the respiratory, immune and digestive systems, as well as being more susceptible to problems of language, learning, social skills and behavior.
Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in various foods, especially in seafood, fish oil, shellfish, walnuts, almonds, various types of seeds and vegetable oils. They are considered to be a useful aid against cardiovascular diseases, able to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and to lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.