Every Day Counts

During pregnancy, every day counts to reduce the risk of preterm birth.

Preterm birth is a leading cause of death and disability among infants and rates are rising in the US1

  • In 2021, the US rate of preterm birth was 10.5%, which is higher than rates in similarly developed nations.
  • There are racial and socioeconomic disparities. For example, Black and Native American women are 62% more likely to have a preterm birth than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

An extensive body of evidence demonstrates that omega-3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy is associated with a reduced risk of preterm birth2

  • The 2018 Cochrane review on omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy shows that high levels of omega-3 consumption, starting in the second trimester of pregnancy, significantly lowers the risk of having a preterm and low birthweight baby.
            - Preterm birth (<37 weeks gestation) risk reduced by 11%
            - Early preterm birth (<34 weeks gestation) reduced by 42%
  • The key omega-3 fatty acids for reducing preterm birth are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Pregnant women in the US have very low omega-3 fatty acid intakes3

  • Dietary sources of omega-3 (EPA and DHA) are fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and tuna, and they can also be obtained from vegetarian sources, such as marine micro-algae.
  • Seafood and omega-3 fatty acid intakes are very low among pregnant women in the US.
  • In a recent study, 100% of pregnant women surveyed reported seafood intakes less than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations of 8-12 oz. per week.
  • The mean intake of DHA from food and dietary supplements was ~75mg DHA per day among pregnant women, far below the level shown to reduce preterm birth risk in women with low DHA status.

Impact of DHA Supplementation among Pregnant Women in the US

DHA supplementation during pregnancy can reduce the risk of preterm birth. Download our infographic to learn more.

How does your DHA intake measure up?
Take our Food Frequency Questionnaire to find out.


1. March of Dimes. 2022 March of Dimes Report Card: Stark and unacceptable disparities persist alongside a troubling rise in preterm birth rates. Available at: https://www.marchofdimes.org/sites/default/files/2022-11/March-of-Dimes-2022-Full-Report-Card.pdf

2. Middleton P, et al. Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;11(11):Cd003402. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003402.pub3

3. Zhang Z, et al. Dietary intakes of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids among US childbearing-age and pregnant women: an analysis of NHANES 2001-2014. Nutrients. 2018;10:416.