Intended for healthcare professionals

Clinical Review

Recent developments in obstetrics

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7415.604 (Published 11 September 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:604

Fish Oil Far More Effective Than Aspirin For Pre-eclampsia

The authors provide a current review of advancements in gynecology but fail to acknowledge one of the most important developments in the field of obstetrics. They correctly point out that pre-eclampsia affects around 3% of pregnant women and accounts for 25% of all babies with a very low birth weight(<1500 g).

However they offer a drug (low dose aspirin) as the solution to this problem. They point out that aspirin reduces pre-eclampsia by 15% but they fail to acknowledge one of the most radical innovations to obstetrical care, the use of high quality fish oil. (1) Williams showed that a mere 15% increase in the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids was associated with a 46% reduction in risk of pre-eclampsia. This is over a 300% improvement relative to aspirin.

Additonally, last year Olsen (2) showed very clearly that randomised trials confirmed that the consumption of fish oil in pregnancy can increase birth weight by prolonging gestation and reduce the risk of recurrence of preterm delivery.

It is likely the mechanism of action of fish oil is similar to that of aspirin in that they both favorably optimize prostaglandin production. The only caution in using fish oil is to avoid the use of fish as most fish are heavily contaminated with mercury. A study published earlier this year (3) by US government scientists showed that one in 12 U.S. women of childbearing age have potentially hazardous levels of mercury in their blood as a result of consuming fish.

Most high quality fish or cod liver oil supplements use molecular distillation techniques which effectively remove nearly all the mercury and PCB contaminants and offer a highly cost effective solution to the prevention of the devastating consequences of premature delivery and pre-eclampsia.

1. Williams MA, Zingheim RW, King IB, Zebelman AM.
Omega-3 fatty acids in maternal erythrocytes and risk of preeclampsia. Epidemiology. 1995 May;6(3):232-7.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=retrieve&db=pubmed&lis...

2. Olsen SF, Secher, NJ; Low consumption of seafood in early pregnancy as a risk factor for preterm delivery: prospective cohort study BMJ 2002;324:447 ( 23 February )
http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/324/7335/447?maxtoshow=&HITS...

3. Schober SE, Sinks TH, Jones RL, et al. JAMA. 2003 Apr 2;289(13):1667-74. Blood mercury levels in US children and women of childbearing age, 1999-2000.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&lis...

Competing interests:  
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

13 September 2003
Joseph M. Mercola
Medical Director Optimal Wellness Center
Schaumburg, IL 60194 USA