Fish oil during pregnancy linked to lower incidence of asthma and wheezing in children

13 January 2017

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Research efforts into potential benefits of complementary medicines continues to pay dividends, with a new study published in this month's New England Journal of Medicin ehowing the benefits of fish oil supplementation in pregnant women can reduce the risk of their children developing asthma or persistent wheeze as infants.

Research from The Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood consisted of a longitudinal study of pregnant women who took omega-3s in the form of 4 x 1000mg fish oil capsules during the third trimester of pregnancy.

A total of 695 children were included in the trial, and 95.5% completed the 3-year, double-blind follow-up period. All women who consumed fish oil in the last trimester of their pregnancy reduced the risk of their children developing asthma by at least 32 per cent. 

The effect was strongest in the children of women whose blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were the lowest. 

Clinical Professor and Head of COPSAC, Hans Bisgaard, said:
"Fish oil contains long-chained fatty acids and high levels of these acids help to reduce the risk of child asthma.

"The long-chained fatty acids found in fish oil are important to the immune system. If the cell membrane does not contain a sufficient amount of fatty acids, it cannot produce antibodies, which increases the risk of developing asthma. Our ability to absorb these fatty acids is genetically determined which means that some people absorb them better than others. People who absorb the fatty acids less well need a larger dose.

"Consuming more fish oil than you need has no adverse effects. I therefore recommend that all women eat fish oil during the last trimester of their pregnancy."

 

References

Fish Oil-Derived Fatty Acids in Pregnancy and Wheeze and Asthma in Offspring,http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1503734