Fish Oil intake compared with olive oil intake in late pregnancy and asthma in the offspring: 16 y of registry-based follow-up from a randomized controlled trial

Olsen SF; Ă˜sterdal ML; Salvig JD; Mortensen LM; Rytter R; Secher NJ; Henriksen TB

Background: Evidence suggests that asthma is rooted in the intrauterine environment and that intake of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) in pregnancy may have immunomodulatory effects on the child.

Objective: Our aim was to examine whether increasing maternal intake of n-3 PUFAs in pregnancy may affect offspring risk of asthma.

Design: In 1990, a population-based sample of 533 women with normal pregnancies were randomly assigned 2:1:1 to receive four 1-g gelatin capsules/d with fish oil providing 2.7 g n-3 PUFAs (n = 266); four 1-g, similar-looking capsules/d with olive oil (n = 136); or no oil capsules (n = 131). Women were recruited and randomly assigned around gestation week 30 and asked to take capsules until delivery. Among 531 live-born children, 528 were identified in registries and 523 were still alive by August 2006. Diagnoses from the International Coding of Diseases version 10 were extracted from a mandatory registry that recorded diagnoses reported from hospital contacts.

Results: During the 16 y that passed since childbirth, 19 children from the fish oil and olive oil groups had received an asthma-related diagnosis; 10 had received the diagnosis allergic asthma. The hazard rate of asthma was reduced by 63% (95% CI: 8%, 85%; P = 0.03), whereas the hazard rate of allergic asthma was reduced by 87% (95% CI: 40%, 97%; P = 0.01) in the fish oil compared with the olive oil group.

Conclusions: Under the assumption that intake of olive oil in the dose provided here was inert, our results support that increasing n-3 PUFAs in late pregnancy may carry an important prophylactic potential in relation to offspring asthma.

DANORC is supported by the
The Danish Council for Strategic Research
Institute of Preventive Medicine
Frederiksberg Hospital
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