These species are rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Low concentrations of certain long chain fatty acids–eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA+DHA)–may be a strong risk factor for preterm birth.
Pregnant women who had low plasma levels of long chain n-3 fatty acids in their first and second trimesters were at a significantly higher risk of early preterm birth. This has been revealed by new research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen.
According to WHO, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm every year (before 37 completed weeks of gestation), and this number is rising. Preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, responsible for approximately 1 million deaths in 2015.
India has the highest number of pre-term births in the world. As per available estimates, 33.4 lakh pre-term babies were born in India in 2015
“At a time when many pregnant women are hearing messages encouraging them to avoid intake of fish altogether due to mercury content, our results support the importance of ensuring adequate intake of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in pregnancy,” said lead author Sjurdur F. Olsen, adjunct professor of nutrition at Harvard Chan School and head of the Centre for Fetal Programming at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The study was published online in EBioMedicine.
Preterm birth is a leading cause of neonatal death and is associated with cognitive deficiencies and cardiometabolic problems later in life among survivors. The study was undertaken to evaluate the hypothesis that high intake of EPA+DHA, which is found in cold-water fish such as Atlantic mackerel, anchovies, salmon, and tuna and also in leaner species such as cod and haddock, can reduce the risk of preterm birth.
India has the highest number of pre-term births in the world. As per available estimates, 33.4 lakh pre-term babies were born in India in 2015 which contributes to 22% of world’s pre-term births.
The findings suggest that, among pregnant women with low levels of EPA+DHA, eating more fish or taking a fish oil supplement could potentially lower the risk of preterm birth. The researchers however, cautioned that the findings may not solely reflect a variation in diet; variation in underlying genetic factors may also play a role.