Reduces Infant Immune Reponses to Allergens
Omega-3 fatty acids are recommended as part of a balanced diet, but a paediatrician at The University of Western Australia (UWA) has discovered that they could also be used to prevent allergies in babies and children.
UWA Associate Professor Susan Prescott and a research team examined the effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated-rich fish oils in pregnancy, on the developing infant immune responses.
They found that babies whose mothers were given fish oil supplements during pregnancy had reduced infant immune responses to allergens such as cat and house dust mite.
It was also noted that these babies were three times less likely to develop allergies to food, such as egg, and have less severe infantile eczema in the first year of life.
"With the dramatic increase in allergic disease in recent years, there is an urgent need to identify environmental changes which may be responsible," Associate Professor Prescott, Head of UWA's School of Paediatrics and Child Health said.
"One significant change that has occurred with progressive westernisation has been falling intakes of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
So there has been growing interest in dietary omega-3 replacement in the prevention of allergic diseases."
Associate Professor Prescott's findings are published in the international Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology December 2003 issue.