Children whose mothers took fish oil during pregnancy have less risk of having some types of allergies, according to a study. The study was carried out by a team of researchers from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI). It was the largest in the world to observe the effects that omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish oil, had on allergy risk in children.
The researchers wanted to determine whether taking fish oil supplements that contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) during pregnancy can lower the risk of allergies in children and how long these effects would last. DHA is an omega-3 fat that is obtained from fish and fish oils. It also plays a role in the way the brain functions and develops and is believed to be involved in regulating immune responses. The study builds on previous findings that the supplementation of DHA may change the type of immune responses that result to allergies and that these benefits may be more optimized in the womb prior to the establishment of allergic responses.
In the study, the researchers studied the data of 605 families who participated in the DOMInO Trial. They followed up on children who were born to mothers who took fish oil supplements containing DHA and those who did not for six years. The researchers found that at the age of one, children of mothers who had consumed a large amount of fish oil in pregnancy had less allergy to egg. Moreover, they were less likely to have eczema compared to those children who were born to mothers who took capsules with no omega-3. However, at the age of three, there were no significant changes between the two groups. At the age of six, there was a 40 percent decrease in risk of allergy to house dust mite in children born to mothers who took DHA supplements. Furthermore, they had lesser chance of having hay fever.
Despite the positive results of the study on the development of allergy prevention, Karen Best, one of the researchers of the study, explained that further research is needed to identify what the ideal dose of DHA is, and what the full effects of consuming a large amount of fish oil during pregnancy are. She also added that she and her team could develop dietary recommendations to help pregnant women stop the development of allergies in children.
“Who knows – the simple, low-cost intervention during pregnancy may help to reduce the burden of lifelong allergies in the future,” Best said.
Other benefits and uses of omega-3 fish oil
According to an article by AmericanPregnancy.org, omega-3 is important fatty acid for the maintenance of the balanced production of the hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins, which help regulate essential physiological functions, such as blood pressure, blood clotting, nerve transmission, and inflammatory and allergic responses. Omega-3s have been known to play an important role in the neurological and early visual development of an infant. However, pregnant women have lower omega-3s because the fetus uses omega-3s for the development of its nervous system.
Another use of omega-3s is that it is used to produce breast milk. Studies also show that adding omega-3 fats, EPA, and DHA, to the diet of pregnant women can improve the visual and cognitive development of the baby. Fish oil supplements during pregnancy may also lower the risk of diabetes in offspring. Omega-3 fatty acids are not only beneficial to the baby in the womb, but also to pregnancy itself. It has been found to prevent pre-term labor and delivery, reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, and may increase birth weight.
Find out more health benefits of fish oil supplements at SupplementsReport.com.