Marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) are important nutrients during periods of rapid growth and development in utero and infancy. Maternal health and risk factors play a crucial role in birth outcomes and subsequently offspring cardio-metabolic health. Evidence from observational studies and randomized trials have suggested a potential association of maternal intake of marine n-3 PUFAs during pregnancy with pregnancy and birth outcomes. However, there is inconsistency in the literature on whether marine n-3 PUFA supplementation during pregnancy can prevent maternal complications of pregnancy. This narrative literature review summarizes recent evidence on observational and clinical trials of marine n-3 PUFA intake on maternal risk factors and effects on offspring cardio-metabolic health. The current evidence generally does not support a role of maternal n-3 PUFA supplementation in altering the incidence of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, or pre-eclampsia. It may be that benefits from marine n-3 PUFA supplementation are more pronounced in high-risk populations, such as women with a history of complications of pregnancy, or women with low marine n-3 PUFA intake. Discrepancies between studies may be related to differences in study design, dosage, fatty acid interplay, and length of treatment. Further prospective double-blind studies are needed to clarify the impact of long-chain marine n-3 PUFAs on risk factors for cardio-metabolic disease in the offspring.
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