Omega-3 supplementation to prevent recurrent preterm birth: a systematic review and metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2015 Aug;213(2):135-40. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2015.03.013. Epub 2015 Mar 7.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for the prevention of recurrent preterm birth (PTB) in asymptomatic singleton gestations with previous PTB. We searched fish oil, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, pregnancy, and omega-3 in MEDLINE, OVID, Scopus,, the PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from inception of each database to December 2014 with no limit for language. In addition the reference lists of all identified articles were examined to identify studies that were not captured by electronic searches. We performed a metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials of asymptomatic singleton gestations with previous PTB who were assigned randomly to prophylactic omega-3 supplementation vs control (either placebo or no treatment). The primary outcome was predefined as PTB at <37 weeks of gestation. The pooled results were reported as relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence interval (95% CI). The protocol of this review was registered with PROSPERO (registration number: CRD42015016371). Two randomized controlled trials that included 1080 women were analyzed. The mean gestational age at randomization was approximately 134 days in both groups (mean difference, 0.01 days; 95% CI, -0.13 to 0.14). Women who received omega-3 had similar rates of PTB at <37 weeks of gestation (34.5% vs 39.8%; RR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.59-1.12) and PTB at <34 weeks of gestation (12.0% vs 15.4%; RR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.26-1.46) compared with control subjects. The omega-3 groups had a statistically significantly longer latency (mean difference, 2.10 days; 95% CI, 1.98-2.22) and higher birthweight (mean difference, 102.52 g; 95% CI, 20.09-184.95) compared with control subjects; the other secondary outcomes (which included gestational age at delivery, spontaneous PTB at <37 and 34 weeks of gestation, admission to the intensive care unit, intraventricular hemorrhage, necrotizing enterocolitis, sepsis, and perinatal death) were similar. Omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy does not prevent recurrent PTB in asymptomatic singleton gestations with previous PTB. The benefits in longer latency and higher birth weight may deserve further study.

Keywords: fish oil; omega-3; pregnancy; preterm birth.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recurrence


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3