Food and Behaviour Research

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23 July 2012 - Nutraingredients - Omega-3s may protect children against allergies

Daily supplements of omega-3-rich fish oil may reduce the allergic response to some allergens, says a new study that adds to the immune modulating properties of the fatty acids

Results of a double-blind randomized controlled trial with 120 infants revealed that fish oil supplements led to an increase in blood levels of the omega-3s EPA and DHA and decreased allergic responses to allergens such as dust mites.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effects of direct postnatal fish oil supplementation on immune development in the first 6 months of life",
wrote researchers from the University of Western Australia in Clinical and Experimental Allergy.

“Collectively our observations support a biologically plausible relationship that needs to be explored further but are in agreement with growing evidence that optimizing n-3 PUFA status during early life may have a favourable effect on immune patterns and allergy development.”

Benefits

Commenting on the study’s findings, Harry Rice, PhD, VP of scientific and regulatory affairs for GOED, the omega-3 trade association, said: “The incidence, as well as prevalence, of allergic disorders in the developing world continues to rise.

“The present results demonstrating the immunomodulatory properties of EPA and DHA translating into allergy protection suggest that the simple step of supplementation with EPA and DHA in infancy may result in increased quality of life, not to mention decreased health care costs, for those afflicted with allergic conditions.

“Tracking the studied infants over time will be crucial to understanding the longer term impact of such supplementation.”