A study by researchers in Denmark and Canada has shown that a baby’s risk of developing childhood asthma could be reduced if their mother consumes omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as flaxseed and fish, as well as in supplements like fish oil, and are known to have a range of benefits for heart and brain health.
This new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, aimed to find out whether regularly taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy would affect a child’s likelihood of experiencing wheeze and asthma in later years.
736 women who were 24-weeks pregnant were split into two groups: one of which took a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids via fish oil, and the other of which took a daily dose of olive oil.
The researchers followed up with the women and their children for the next 5 years. During this time, they monitored the children’s health for asthma, wheeze, lung infections, eczema, and allergies.
They found that the children whose mothers took daily fish oil were 30.7% less likely to experience asthma or persistent wheeze than those who took olive oil.
The effect was particularly strong among the children whose mothers had particularly low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood at the start of the study – reducing the risk by 54%.
The researchers suggest that taking fish oil could therefore be a fairly straightforward way of preventing asthma.
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