AARHUS, Denmark–Low consumption of fish was a strong risk factor for preterm delivery and low birth weight among a cohort of women located here. According to researchers from the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, who published a study in the Feb. 23 issue of the British Medical Journal (324:447, 2002) (bmj.com), the relationship between the risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight and fish intake may be linked with the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, or a lack thereof.
In a cohort of 8,729 pregnant women, those who consumed an estimated 15 g of fish (.15 g of omega-3 fatty acids) or less each day were at a greater risk of preterm delivery than women with higher intakes of fish and omega-3s.
According to researchers, the occurrence of preterm delivery was very different among the women, depending on fish intake. While 7.1 percent of women who never consumed fish experienced preterm deliveries, only 1.9 percent of women consuming the highest amounts of fish gave birth before the term was up. Incidence of low birth weight followed a similar pattern, also based on fish consumption.
Researchers concluded that an increased consumption of fish, and therefore an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids–at amounts higher than 15 g/d of fish and higher than .15 g/d of omega-3s–could protect woman against preterm delivery and underweight babies.