Omega-3 fatty acid supply in pregnancy for risk reduction of preterm and early preterm birth

Pediatric-Neonatology Branch, Asia Pacific Health AssociationChild Health Foundation (Stiftung Kindergesundheit)European Academy of PaediatricsEuropean Board & College of Obstetrics and GynaecologyEuropean Foundation for the Care of Newborn InfantsEuropean Society for Paediatric ResearchInternational Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Irene Cetin, Susan E. Carlson, Christy Burden, Eduardo B. da Fonseca, Gian Carlo di Renzo, Adamos Hadjipanayis, William S. Harris, Kishore R. Kumar, Sjurdur Frodi Olsen, Silke Mader, Fionnuala M. McAuliffe, Beverly Muhlhausler, Emily Oken, Liona C. Poon, Lucilla Poston, Usha Ramakrishnan, Charles C. Roehr, Charles Savona-Ventura, Cornelius M. SmutsAlexandros Sotiriadis, Kuan Pin Su, Rachel M. Tribe, Gretchen Vannice, Berthold Koletzko*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This clinical practice guideline on the supply of the omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid in pregnant women for risk reduction of preterm birth and early preterm birth was developed with support from several medical-scientific organizations, and is based on a review of the available strong evidence from randomized clinical trials and a formal consensus process. We concluded the following. Women of childbearing age should obtain a supply of at least 250 mg/d of docosahexaenoic+eicosapentaenoic acid from diet or supplements, and in pregnancy an additional intake of ≥100 to 200 mg/d of docosahexaenoic acid. Pregnant women with a low docosahexaenoic acid intake and/or low docosahexaenoic acid blood levels have an increased risk of preterm birth and early preterm birth. Thus, they should receive a supply of approximately 600 to 1000 mg/d of docosahexaenoic+eicosapentaenoic acid, or docosahexaenoic acid alone, given that this dosage showed significant reduction of preterm birth and early preterm birth in randomized controlled trials. This additional supply should preferably begin in the second trimester of pregnancy (not later than approximately 20 weeks’ gestation) and continue until approximately 37 weeks’ gestation or until childbirth if before 37 weeks’ gestation. Identification of women with inadequate omega-3 supply is achievable by a set of standardized questions on intake. Docosahexaenoic acid measurement from blood is another option to identify women with low status, but further standardization of laboratory methods and appropriate cutoff values is needed. Information on how to achieve an appropriate intake of docosahexaenoic acid or docosahexaenoic+eicosapentaenoic acid for women of childbearing age and pregnant women should be provided to women and their partners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101251
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology MFM
Issue number2
Early online date7 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • diet record
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • fish oils
  • omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • pregnancy nutrition
  • preterm birth


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