Omega-3 to omega-6 status during pregnancy and baby development


Low birth weight babies may be more at risk for certain health problems (in the first days of life, or longer-term problems), and babies born preterm (prior to 37 completed weeks of gestation) often need more medical care (they are at greater risk for respiratory and feeding difficulties, and problems regulating temperature).

Maternal status in fatty acids during pregnancy is key for fetal growth and development. Particularly, a higher omega-3 fatty acids status, and an optimal ratio between maternal omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important for fetal health and are associated with higher fetal growth velocity (including weight, length and head size), a higher birth weight, and a longer duration of pregnancy.

A higher ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (in other words, more omega-3 in relation to omega-6) is also associated with a higher weight of the placenta. This is important because apart from maternal intake, the fetal supply of fatty acids depends on its release from the maternal adipose tissue and the transport through the placenta.

There is a growing evidence supporting the benefits of omega-3 supplementation on pregnancy and the health and development of the infants.


Grootendorst-van Mil NH, Tiemeier H, Steenweg-de Graaff J, Koletzko B, Demmelmair H, Jaddoe VWV, et al. Maternal plasma n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids during pregnancy and features of fetal health: Fetal growth velocity, birth weight and duration of pregnancy. Clin Nutr. 2017.(17)30221-2. [Epub ahead of print]

Clinical nutrition journal. Maternal plasma n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids during pregnancy and features of fetal health.

MedlinePlus. Birth Weight.

WebMD. Typical Pregnancy Now 39 Weeks, Not 40. March 23, 2006.



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