Low fish consumption in pregnancy linked to preterm delivery

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Results of a population-based study by Danish researchers reported in the February 23rd issue of the British Medical Journal indicate that pregnant women who consume low amounts of fish during early pregnancy are at increased risk for preterm delivery and delivering low birthweight infants.

Dr. Sjתrנur Frףנi Olsen, from the Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, and Dr. Niels Jרrgen Secher, from Skejby University Hospital, Aarhus, collected data on 8729 pregnant women.

Analysis showed that among women who never ate fish the occurrence of preterm delivery was 7.1%, while for women who ate fish at least once a week the occurrence of preterm delivery was only 1.9%, Drs. Olsen and Secher report.

Compared with women in the highest fish consumption group, the odds ratio for preterm delivery for women who never consumed fish was 3.6, the Danish team calculates. The risks for low birthweight were similar to those for preterm delivery, they add.

This dose-response relationship was strongest in the range of no fish intake to 15 g of fish consumed daily, which is about 0.15 g of n-3 fatty acid intake, Drs. Olsen and Secher note.

"In women with zero or low intake of fish, small amounts of n-3 fatty acids–provided as fish or fish oil–may confer protection against preterm delivery and low birthweight," the researchers speculate.

BMJ 2002;324:447-450.

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