December 07, 2018
How Fish Can Decrease the Risk of Preterm Birth

Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplementation in pregnancy, decreases the risk of preterm birth, early preterm birth, and small for gestational age babies.

In a review of 70 randomized trials, pregnant women who took 500-1000 mg of mixed DHA and EPA, and at least 500 mg of DHA starting at 12 weeks decreased their risk of preterm birth (<37 weeks) by 10%, early preterm birth (<34 weeks) by 42%, and reduced their risk of delivering a small baby (<2500g) by 10%. This is a critical nutrient that many women are frequently deficient in during pregnancy. And although the etiology of preterm birth is multi-factorial, it is important to highlight the role of one nutrient intervention and profound effects for mother and baby. But, as always, let’s break this down in food form, shall we? Although supplementation is often needed in pregnancy, it is always important to us that we look to food sources to achieve nutrient needs for both mother and baby. When we are talking about omega-3 fatty acid‘s, particularly EPA and DHA we look to coldwater fish. Now, I know what you’re thinking…What about heavy metals? In a systematic review of 8 papers, it was found that the benefits of diet providing moderate amounts of fish during pregnancy outweighed the potential detrimental effects in regards to offspring neurodevelopment. It was important that the mother was careful of the type of fish consumed, and that the fish were low in mercury. Not only do we care about heavy metal content in the fish, but at GrowBaby we are aware that sustainable fishing practices are an important factor of fish consumption. That is why we recommend to all women who are interested in eating seafood during pregnancy to utilize seafoodwatch.org and download their consumer guide by state. This guide walks consumers through best choices, good alternatives and which seafood to avoid. In general, salmon is a safe fish to eat during pregnancy. It does matter that it is wild caught however! As we know that fish don’t swim through cornfields and farmed fish are often fed corn meal. A usual 3 to 4 ounce serving of salmon will yield you approximately 1 g of omega-3 fatty acids-About 500 to 800 g of DHA and anywhere from 400 to 1000 g of EPA-depending in the type of salmon. If you aren’t into fish, you can choose to eat ALA a precursor molecule in fatty acid metabolism that allows you to make EPA and DHA. Food sources of ALA include flaxseeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. It is important to say, however, that most humans are only able to convert a small portion of ALA to EPA and DHA—5-10% of ALA to EPA and <1% from ALA to DHA. Therefore we recommend to non-seafood consumers to take supplemental fish oil especially in pregnancy.

Sources:

M Makrides, L Duley, SF Olsen. Fish oil and other prostaglandin precursor supplementation during pregnancy for reducing pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, low birth weight and intrauterine growth restriction. Cochrane Review, 2018 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003402

Starling, P., Charlton, K., McMahon, A. T., & Lucas, C. (2015). Fish intake during pregnancy and foetal neurodevelopment--a systematic review of the evidence. Nutrients, 7(3), 2001-14. doi:10.3390/nu7032001

Lee, J. M., Lee, H., Kang, S., & Park, W. J. (2016). Fatty Acid Desaturases, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Regulation, and Biotechnological Advances. Nutrients, 8(1), 23. doi:10.3390/nu8010023

Posted on Dec 07, 2018