This paper presents an overview of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on the duration of pregnancy, incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension, fetal growth and development, including birth weight, neurocognitive and visual development in the infant, and postpartum depression in the mother. A brief introduction to the role of nutrition on the outcome of pregnancy provides a context for the review of the literature which follows. Much of the research is preliminary and includes epidemiological, animal, and human studies. The clinical applications of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding are currently controversial due to mixed findings in the research. However, this nutritional factor warrants further study because of the clear physiological basis, strong epidemiological evidence, and positive clinical outcomes and because of the potential for improved physical and behavioral health.
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