Fish oil pills for pregnant moms may cut asthma risk in kids

Fish oil pills for pregnant moms may cut asthma risk in kids
In this Friday, March 29, 2013 file photo, fresh fish rest on ice, displayed for sale at the Fulton Fish Market in New York. In research by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, published Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, children whose mothers took high doses of fish oil during their last three months of pregnancy were less likely to develop chronic wheezing problems or asthma by age 5. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Children whose moms took high doses of fish oil during their last three months of pregnancy were less likely to develop chronic wheezing problems or asthma by age 5, finds a study that suggests a possible way to help prevent this growing problem.

Asthma cases have been rising in developed countries, while consumption of like those found in fish has decreased. Some earlier studies suggested that omega-3 deficiency during pregnancy may affect asthma risk in babies, but they were too small to be definitive.

It's not known why this may be—one theory is that lowers inflammation, which can tighten airways.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark did a rigorous test, assigning about 700 women to take 2.4 grams a day of a supplement containing two types of fish oil, or look-alike pills of olive oil, in their third trimester of pregnancy, when babies' lungs are maturing. Neither the moms nor the researchers knew who was getting what until after three years, and then only the researchers knew until the children reached age 5.

Moms recorded how many episodes a child had of lung problems lasting for at least three days. This was called persistent wheezing until a child turned 3 and asthma after that.

Results: 17 percent of kids whose moms took fish oil developed a breathing problem by age 5 versus 24 percent of the comparison group—a reduction in risk of about one-third. There also were fewer cases of bronchitis, pneumonia and other such infections in the fish oil group.

However, almost all of the reduced risk occurred in children whose moms had the lowest blood levels of omega-3 at the start of the study. Fifteen women would need to take fish oil pills to prevent one case of wheezing or asthma if the whole group was taken into consideration, but only about five women would have to if just this lowest-level group was treated.

That suggests a possible way to tell who might benefit most if supplements are to be considered at all.

The results "are highly promising" but merit caution, Dr. Christopher Ramsden of the U.S. National Institutes of Health writes in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, which published the study on Wednesday.

The fish oil dose in the study was 15 to 20 times as high as the average amount Americans get from food, and before it can be recommended, more study is needed to ensure that doesn't harm behavior, thinking abilities or other aspects of health, he writes. Doctors who wrote another article in the journal suggest that supplements are reasonable for women with a family history of asthma, especially since they are cheap and no major side effects were seen.

The study was paid for by the Lundbeck Foundation of Denmark and the Danish Ministry of Health and other groups. Some study leaders have a pending patent related to preventing through gene and blood testing of .


Explore further

Link ID'd for introduction of fish, childhood wheeze

Journal information: New England Journal of Medicine

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Citation: Fish oil pills for pregnant moms may cut asthma risk in kids (2016, December 28) retrieved 23 October 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-12-fish-oil-pills-pregnant-moms.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
936 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Dec 28, 2016
My understanding about fish oils is to consume fish and not to take fish pills. The fish pills have 500-1,000 too much the wrong kind of oil. Our bodies need essential oils like the one from flax seeds and converts it to any oils it needs, omega 3... From what I have read taking fish pills is associated with increased breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. This article is a total bs in my opinion.

yep
Dec 28, 2016
Hemp seeds are better than fish or flax,
https://ratical.o...oil.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more