Low consumption of seafood in early pregnancy as a risk factor for preterm delivery: prospective cohort study

Sjúrdur Fródi Olsen, Niels Jørgen Secher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

306 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To determine the relation between intake of seafood in pregnancy and risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight.DESIGN: Prospective cohort study.SETTING: Aarhus, Denmark.PARTICIPANTS: 8729 pregnant women.MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Preterm delivery and low birth weight.RESULTS: The occurrence of preterm delivery differed significantly across four groups of seafood intake, falling progressively from 7.1% in the group never consuming fish to 1.9% in the group consuming fish as a hot meal and an open sandwich with fish at least once a week. Adjusted odds for preterm delivery were increased by a factor of 3.6 (95% confidence interval 1.2 to 11.2) in the zero consumption group compared with the highest consumption group. Analyses based on quantified intakes indicated that the working range of the dose-response relation is mainly from zero intake up to a daily intake of 15 g fish or 0.15 g n-3 fatty acids. Estimates of risk for low birth weight were similar to those for preterm delivery.CONCLUSIONS: Low consumption of fish was a strong risk factor for preterm delivery and low birth weight. In women with zero or low intake of fish, small amounts of n-3 fatty acids--provided as fish or fish oil--may confer protection against preterm delivery and low birth weight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447
Number of pages1
JournalThe BMJ
Issue number7335
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Diet/adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3/administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature/etiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood


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