Swedish study finds that women who take fish oil supplements during pregnancy and breast feeding have children with fewer allergies as infants. The study found that omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy and lactation increased levels of eicosapentaeonoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the mother. This seems to have lead to fewer instances of infant allergy and eczema.
The study was conducted with 95 pregnant women from families with a history of allergic disease. They were assigned either daily omega-3 supplementation in varied doses or given a placebo of soy bean oil starting at their 25th week of pregnancy and running through the third month of lactation. Increased levels of EPA and DHA were noted in the colostrum of those taking supplementation.
Higher EPA and DHA levels were associated with lower and even no allergic disease after birth.
"Indeed, none of the children developed IgE-associated allergic disease" when there were high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the mother's intake and colostrum.
Previous findings from the same research group corroborated these new findings, indicating that DHA and EPA are important supplements during pregnancy and that the controversy is not whether they reduce allergies in infants, but how much supplementation is required to make the link.
The potential anti-inflammatory effects were theorized as the reason that omega-3 fatty acids are helpful in reducing allergic disease in children.