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SAHMRI:Omega-3 screening to help prevent premature births

Information for families

What is omega-3 and why is it important for your pregnancy?

Omega-3 fats are nutrients commonly found in fish and algae. Enough omega-3 in your body during pregnancy can help you have a full-term pregnancy. Babies born too soon (premature), particularly those born before 34 weeks of pregnancy, may have lengthy stays in hospital and may experience long-term health problems and delays in development.

Women expecting one baby who have low omega-3 levels in their blood are at higher risk of having their baby born prematurely. They are most likely to benefit from omega-3 supplements. Women who have sufficient omega-3 levels are already at lower risk of having a premature baby and do not need to take additional omega-3 supplements.

What is omega-3 screening?

Screening or measuring omega-3 levels in blood before 20 weeks of pregnancy identifies women who require omega-3 supplements. This project is evaluating how well an omega-3 screening program will work to reduce premature birth
for women expecting one baby. There is not yet a screening test for women expecting twins or triplets.

How does the omega-3 screening test occur?

After discussing with you, your health professional will order your omega-3 screening test on the SA Maternal Serum
Antenatal Screening (SAMSAS) request form. Your omega-3 level will be measured using the blood being collected for the SAMSAS program. The test is provided free to families.

Your omega-3 test results

Your health professional will receive your omega-3 test results and discuss these with you at your next appointment.

SA Pathology and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) are evaluating omega-3 screening for pregnant women. Our aim is to reduce the number of babies born prematurely.

Further information

Visit www.sahmri.org/omega3 It includes information about supplements with different doses of omega-3
Speak to your doctor or midwife

Evaluation of omega-3 screening program

It is important to assess how many women have low omega-3 levels and how many babies were born early since the omega-3 screening started. This will see if screening has reduced the number of premature births in South Australia. We will securely link the omega-3 test results with birth data, without identifying you or your baby in any way. You may decline
to have your data linked without affecting you or your baby’s care.

Opting out: If you do not want your data included in the statewide evaluation of omega-3 screening, please email omega3@sahmri.com or telephone (08) 8128 4444.

The evaluation has been approved by the Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN) Human Research Ethics (HREC)
Committee (HREC/20/WCHN/138). Should you wish to discuss the study with someone not directly involved, you may contact the executive secretary of the Human Research Ethics Committee, Mr Luke Fraser, WCHN (08) 8161 6521.

If you would like further information about the evaluation of the omega-3 screening program contact us:
(08) 8128 4444

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