Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake of Pregnant Women and Women of Childbearing Age in the United States: Potential for Deficiency?

Omega-3 fatty acids play critical roles during fetal growth and development with increased intakes associated with improved maternal-fetal outcomes. Omega-3 fatty acid intake in Western diets is low, and the impact of socioeconomic factors on omega-3 fatty acid intake in pregnant women and women of childbearing age has not been reported. We used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) cycles 2003–2012 to assess the relationship between omega-3 fatty acid intake and socioeconomic factors in women of childbearing age. Out of 7266 eligible participants, 6478 were women of childbearing age, while 788 were identified as pregnant at the time of the survey. Mean EPA+DHA intake of the population was 89.0 mg with no significant difference between pregnant and non-pregnant women. By univariate and multivariate analyses adjusting for confounders, omega-3 fatty acid intake was significantly associated with poverty-to-income ratio, race, and educational attainment. Our results demonstrate that omega-3 fatty acid intake is a concern in pregnant women and women of childbearing age in the United States, and that socioeconomically disadvantaged populations are more susceptible to potential deficiencies. Strategies to increase omega-3 fatty acid intake in these populations could have the potential to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.

Nutrients 2017, 9(3), 197; doi:10.3390/nu9030197

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