Omega-3s improve birth outcomes, including decreasing risk of miscarriage, stillbirth

You’ve undoubtedly seen the headlines touting the health benefits of omega 3s in recent years. You might even be able to name some of their biggest accomplishments, such as promoting brain and heart health and fighting depression and Alzheimer’s. However, this nutrient also has one very important and often-overlooked benefit that should put it at the top of every pregnant woman’s list: the ability to help prevent miscarriages and stillbirths.

According to a study published in the JCI Insight journal that was carried out by researchers from Columbia University, omega 3 fatty acids can help prevent pregnancy complications like preterm birth, stillbirth and neonatal death caused by a common bacterium in the mouth. F. nucleatum is behind the uterine infections responsible for up to 30 percent of preterm births, and researchers say it’s ubiquitous. While everyone has it in their mouths, it causes a big problem when it travels to other parts of the body. For example, hormonal changes in pregnancy can cause gum bleeding that creates an entry point for the bacteria to get into the bloodstream, where it can then make its way to the placenta and trigger miscarriage or stillbirth.

The researchers used mouse models to determine that the inflammatory response triggered by the bacteria that can cause preterm births only occurs in the presence of a specific immune protein, and they found that omega 3 fatty acids can help to inhibit such mechanisms. Best of all, they’re safe for pregnant women to take – in fact, they’re already recommended for women who are expecting to help support fetal development.

The scientists decided to look into omega 3 fatty acid supplements as they are already known and widely used for reducing inflammation in issues like rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. After further experimentation, they found that omega 3 fatty acids inhibited the growth of the bacteria and inflammation among pregnant mice, thereby reducing stillbirths, miscarriages and preterm births.

Although the doses of omega 3 fatty acids they used in the study were a lot higher than those people who take fish oil supplements normally get, they are hopeful that their finding will lead to future treatments that could save the lives of many babies. Next, the researchers would like to carry out clinical trials to determine whether omega 3s can prevent these infections with F. nucleatum from occurring in pregnant women.

All pregnant women should be paying attention to omega 3 intake

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the most beneficial omega 3s are DHA and EPA. DHA supports the central nervous system, eyes, and brain, making it particularly important for women who are expecting. Studies have shown that getting higher amounts of DHA and EPA can lower the risk of preeclampsia and increase birth weight in addition to preventing pre-term labor. Omega 3s are also used by the body post-birth in making breast milk. Unfortunately, pregnancy often leaves women with depleted omega 3s, which is why supplementation can make such a big difference.

Women can get omega 3s from sources such as wild salmon, herring, and sardines. It’s also present in tuna, but mercury and other toxins are a big concern in pregnancy, so purified, high-quality fish oil supplements are often a better choice.

Pregnant women have a lot on their plates. Not only do they have to avoid potential toxins, but they also have to ensure they’re getting enough of the right nutrients to keep themselves and their babies healthy. The fact that something as simple as the omega 3s found in fish oil could help spare countless women the heartache of miscarriage or stillbirth is testament to the power of natural medicine.

Sources for this article include:

comments powered by Disqus