According to the Mayo Clinic, childhood asthma is the leading cause for children's emergency room visits, hospital stays, and missed school days. There's no cure for the disease, and it can last into adulthood. Fortunately, however, new research indicates that by taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements during pregnancy, mothers may be able to keep their kids from developing it in the first place.
The research was conducted by Copenhagen University Hospital's Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) program, and Canada's University of Waterloo.
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To start, during their third trimester of pregnancy, a total of 736 Danish women were given daily doses of either a fish oil-derived omega-3 supplement, or an olive oil placebo. Blood samples taken at 24 weeks' gestation and one week after delivery confirmed that the first group did indeed have raised omega-3 levels.
After the infants were born, the health of 695 of them was tracked for a period of five years – a time period in which childhood asthma typically begins to appear. It was found that children of the omega-3 moms were an average of 30.7 percent less likely to develop asthma, as compared to those of the olive oil group.
This apparently didn't come as a surprise, as such polyunsaturated fatty acids are already known to play a key role in regulating the human immune response ... and many of us don't get enough of them, as we don't eat much in the way of cold-water fish.
"We've long suspected there was a link between the anti-inflammatory properties of long-chain omega-3 fats, the low intakes of omega-3 in Western diets and the rising rates of childhood asthma," says Prof. Hans Bisgaard of COPSAC. "This study proves that they are definitively and significantly related."
A paper on the research was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Source: University of Waterloo