Top doctor calls for omega-3 to be listed on PBS

Obstetrician Professor Julie Quinlivan says the move will help the most vulnerable pregnant women access the right intervention

A leading obstetrician has called for omega-3 fatty acid supplements to be listed on the PBS, so all pregnant women can access the simple measure that has been shown to almost halve the rate of preterm birth.

Professor Julie Quinlivan, from the University of Notre Dame Australia, in Fremantle, says public health messages should promote fish oil supplements in pregnancy in the wake of a Cochrane review released late last year.

The updated review involving almost 20,000 women and 70 random­ised controlled trials, revealed a 42% reduction in early preterm birth (before 34 weeks) and an 11% reduction in preterm birth overall.

Early preterm birth is the main cause of neonatal death and severe disability, she writes.

The biological mechanism is understood: the omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the production