The increase in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth, says a new study.
While the length of most of the pregnancy is between 38 and 42 weeks, the child is born before, the greater the risk of death or ill health.
Pregnant babies are at increased risk for long-term conditions, including visual impairment, delay in development, and learning difficulties.
The findings showed that the increase in daily consumption of omega-3 with long chains reduced the risk of premature infants (less than 37 weeks) by 11 percent (from 134 to 1,000 to 119 per 1000 births).
It also reduced the risk of an early premature infant (less than 34 weeks) of 42 percent (from 46 to 1,000 to 27 per 1,000 babies) and reduced the risk of a small baby by 10 percent.
"There are not many options to prevent premature birth, so these new findings are very important for pregnant women, infants and health care professionals who care about them," said Philippa Middleton, associate professor at the South African Institute of Health and Medicine (SAHMRI).
"We still do not fully know the causes of premature workforce, so predicting and preventing early births is always a challenge. That's one of the reasons why omega-3 addiction in pregnancy is so great a concern for researchers around the world."
In a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the team reviewed 70 randomized trials with 19,927 women in a low, mixed or high risk of poor pregnancy.
The optimum dose was a daily supplement containing 500 to 1000 milligrams of long chain omega-3 fat (containing at least 500 mg DHA) starting within 12 weeks of pregnancy.
An early birth, a critical global health issue, and the main cause of death for children under five years of age worldwide, represents almost one million deaths annually.