By Rideeta Raquib ‘19
Fish oil is an essential food that is often recommended to boost Omega-3 fats. An insufficient consumption of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) may contribute towards wheezing disorders. A study conducted at the University of Waterloo analyzed the effect of supplementation with n-3 LCPUFAs in pregnant women on the risk factor of acquiring asthma or wheezing disorders in their children.
The experiment involved assigning 736 pregnant women at 24 weeks of gestation to take 2.4 g of n-3 LCPUFA, or fish oil, or a placebo of olive oil daily. The mothers were unaware of the treatment they were assigned to and their children were followed up with after the first 3 years. Afterwards, a 2-year follow-up was scheduled during which the investigators had no knowledge regarding group assignments. Aspects called primary end points, which are the symptoms that are mainly being evaluated based on the treatments randomly assigned, such as persistent wheeze or asthma, as well as secondary end points, which included eczema, lower respiratory tract infections, and allergic sensitization, were analyzed. The secondary end point refers to additional symptoms that occurred after the experiment and may or may not pertain to the randomization. In the trial, 695 children were included and 95.5% finished the follow-ups. It was discovered that within the treatment group, 16.9% had a risk of persistent wheeze or asthma as opposed to 23.7% in the control group. There was also a reduced risk of respiratory tract infection due to n-3 LCPUFA supplementation (31.7% versus 39.1%), and the correlation pertaining to supplementation and allergic reactions and eczema were statistically insignificant.
Overall, n-3 LCPUFA supplementation decreased the risk of persistent asthma or wheezing and lower respiratory tract infection. This study opens doors to possible measures that could be taken by pregnant women in order to reduce the possibility of their child acquiring asthma or wheezing disorders. It can also pave the way for more research that could assess the molecular structure of Omega-3 fats and its association with the respiratory system, hence the possibility of creating a cure for respiratory ailments.
- Hans Bisgaard, al, Fish oil–derived fatty acids in pregnancy and wheeze and asthma in offspring. New England Journal of Medicine 375, (2016). doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1503734.
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