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Omega-3 Supplements Don't Reduce Risk of Preterm Birth
Date:1/28/2010

No benefit seen for women with history of early delivery, researchers say

THURSDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are believed to have many health benefits, but the one thing they can't do is help women with a history of delivering their babies early carry their next child to full term, new research finds.

"The omega-3 did not add any benefit," said study author Dr. Margaret Harper, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC. The study appears in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Harper and her colleagues randomly assigned 852 pregnant women with a history of a preterm birth either to get a daily omega-3 supplement or a placebo beginning about week 16 to 22 and continuing through week 36 of gestation.

All women also received weekly intramuscular hormone injections of hydroxyprogesterone caproate, which has been shown to improve the chances of carrying a baby to term, Harper said.

Her team followed up to see which women delivered before 37 weeks. Full-term is defined as 37 weeks of completed gestation.

Delivery before 37 weeks occurred in 37.8 percent of those taking omega-3, and 41.6 percent of those in the placebo group, a small difference.

Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death, the authors write in the report, and it is increasing in the United States. A woman who delivers one baby before term is more likely to deliver future babies early.

Harper's team decided to study the value of the omega-3 supplements after conflicting findings about the value of the supplements for women at high risk of premature delivery. For those at low-risk, she said, the findings seem to agree that omega-3 supplements don't further reduce the risk of preterm birth.

A recent large review of published studies found only one that showed benefit of the su
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