Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in pregnancy—baseline omega-3 status and early preterm birth: exploratory analysis of a randomised controlled trial

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Abstract

Objective: To identify a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) biomarker able to detect which women with singleton pregnancies are most likely to benefit from omega-3 supplementation to reduce their risk of early preterm birth. Design: Exploratory analysis of a randomised controlled trial. Setting: Six Australian hospitals. Population: Women with a singleton pregnancy enrolled in the ORIP trial. Methods: Using maternal capillary whole blood collected ~14 weeks’ gestation, the fatty acids in total blood lipids were quantified using gas chromatography. Interaction tests examined whether baseline PUFA status modified the effect of omega-3 supplementation on birth outcomes. Main outcome measure: Early preterm birth (<34 weeks’ gestation). Results: A low total omega-3 PUFA status in early pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of early preterm birth. Among women with a total omega-3 status ≤4.1% of total fatty acids, omega-3 supplementation substantially reduced the risk of early preterm birth compared with control (0.73 versus 3.16%; relative risk = 0.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.07–0.79). Conversely, women with higher total omega-3 status in early pregnancy were at lower risk of early preterm birth. Supplementing women with a baseline status above 4.9% increased early preterm birth (2.20 versus 0.97%; relative risk = 2.27, 95% CI 1.13–4.58). Conclusions: Women with singleton pregnancies and low total omega-3 PUFA status early in pregnancy have an increased risk of early preterm birth and are most likely to benefit from omega-3 supplementation to reduce this risk. Women with higher total omega-3 status are at lower risk and additional omega-3 supplementation may increase their risk. Tweetable abstract: Low total omega-3 fat status helps identify which women benefit from extra omega-3 to reduce early prematurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-981
Number of pages7
JournalBJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Volume127
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Biomarker
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology

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