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Premature Births Not Reduced With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Women already taking a drug to reduce the risk of preterm birth get no additional benefit

TUESDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Among pregnant women with a history of premature delivery already taking 17-α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate to reduce the risk of premature delivery, omega-3 fatty acids provide no additional benefit, according to a study in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Margaret Harper, M.D., of Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues randomly assigned 852 pregnant women with a history of prior spontaneous singleton preterm birth to placebo or a daily omega-3 supplement (1,200 mg eicosapentaenoic acid and 800 mg docosahexaenoic acid) from weeks 16 to 22 through 36 weeks of gestation. All women were already receiving weekly 17-α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate to reduce the risk of preterm birth.

The researchers found that the likelihood of delivery before 37 weeks' gestation was similar in the omega-3 and placebo groups (37.8 versus 41.6 percent; relative risk, 0.91). No significant differences were found for delivery before 35 weeks' gestation and before 32 weeks' gestation. There was a significantly higher rate of respiratory distress syndrome in the omega-3 group (relative risk, 1.60).

"Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation offered no benefit in reducing preterm birth among women receiving 17-α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate who have a history of preterm delivery," the authors conclude.

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