Background: Oily fish provides marine n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids that are considered to be important in the growth, development, and health of the fetus and newborn infant.
Objectives: The objectives were to increase salmon consumption among pregnant women and to determine the effect on maternal and umbilical cord plasma marine n-3 fatty acid content.
Design: Women (n = 123) with low habitual consumption of oily fish were randomly assigned to continue their habitual diet or were provided with 2 portions of farmed salmon/wk to include in their diet from week 20 of pregnancy until delivery.
Results: Median weekly consumption frequency of study salmon in the salmon group was 1.94 portions, and total fish consumption frequency was 2.11 portions/wk in the salmon group and 0.47 portions/wk in the control group (P < 0.001). Intakes of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from the diet, from seafood, and from oily fish were higher in the salmon group (all P < 0.001). Percentages of EPA and DHA in plasma phosphatidylcholine decreased during pregnancy in the control group (P for trend = 0.029 and 0.008, respectively), whereas they increased in the salmon group (P for trend for both < 0.001). EPA and DHA percentages were higher in maternal plasma phosphatidylcholine at weeks 34 and 38 of pregnancy and in umbilical cord plasma phosphatidylcholine in the salmon group (P < 0.001 for all).
Conclusion: If pregnant women, who do not regularly eat oily fish, eat 2 portions of salmon/wk, they will increase their intake of EPA and DHA, achieving the recommended minimum intake; and they will increase their and their fetus' status of EPA and DHA. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00801502.