Omega 3 fats can protect children against allergies
A study from Linkoping University in Sweden suggests that omega-3
fats may have a protective effect on allergies in children.
The double blind study, which started in 2005, comprised 145
pregnant mothers with families at heightened risk of developing
allergy and asthma. From the 25th week of pregnancy through the third month of nursing, they were asked to take nine capsules of oil every
day. Half of them were given fish oil with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and the other half were given a placebo in the form of soy oil.
At one year the ‘fish-oil children’ had fewer than half as many reactions to eggs as the placebo group did. This is an important discovery, since allergic reactions to eggs early in life are strongly correlated with the later development of allergic disorders such as eczema and asthma.
The idea that the difference is truly an effect of the omega-3 fats is supported by an immunological study of the mothers' blood. The women who were given fish oil had less prostaglandin E2 in their blood than the others. This is a substance that triggers allergic immune responses, and it is known that it is depressed when the concentration
of omega-3 increases.
‘We have been able to show that omega-3 influences the mother's immunological profile in a less inflammatory direction. Theoretically this can also affect the child's immune system,’ says the immune
biologist Malin Fageras Bottcher, who led the study in collaboration with the child allergist Karel Duchen.
First Published in January 2008