January 15, 2018
Fish Oil and Childhood Asthma
Health News

Fish Oil and Childhood Asthma

by Susan Randel  

Can taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy reduce the risk of asthma in a woman’s offspring? A clinical trial from Denmark suggests it can. The researchers found that the children of women who took fish oil capsules during their third trimester of pregnancy had a lower risk of developing asthma in early childhood compared with children whose mothers did not take fish oil.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed more than 600 children from birth through age 3. Those whose mothers had been randomly chosen to take daily fish oil capsules (supplying 2,400 milligrams of omega-3 fats) were less likely to develop asthma than those whose mothers had taken a placebo. In an additional two-year follow-up, those children whose mothers took fish oil continued to show a lower rate of wheezing and asthma than the placebo group. The researchers plan to continue to follow as many of the children as they can to see if the trend remains consistent over time.

The study used a high dose of omega-3s—more than can be supplied by diet (unless you ate 4 to 8 ounces of salmon a day). There is no official recommended intake for these omega-3s in the U.S., but in some other countries, 500 milligrams a day is advised. The American Heart Association has recommended 1,000 milligrams a day for people with coronary artery disease.

Though the findings are intriguing, it’s too early to recommend fish oil for the purpose of preventing childhood asthma. As the authors noted, further studies are needed to repeat the results of this study, as well as to examine different doses of fish oil.

Also see Preventing Peanut Allergies in Children.