HealthDay News — According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, supplementation with n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) is associated with a reduction in the risk of persistent wheeze and asthma in offspring — for women in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Hans Bisgaard, MD, from Herlev and Gentofte Hospital in Hellerup, Denmark, and colleagues randomized 736 pregnant women at 24 weeks of gestation to 2.4 grams n-3 LCPUFAs or placebo. 

Their children formed the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood2010 cohort and were followed prospectively. For the first 3 years of the children’s lives, neither the investigators nor the participants were aware of the group assignments.

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Six hundred ninety-five children were included in the trial and 95.5% completed the 3-year follow-up period. The researchers found that the risk of persistent wheeze or asthma was 16.9 and 23.7% in the treatment and control groups, respectively (hazard ratio, 0.69), corresponding to a relative reduction of 30.7%.

Children of women whose blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid were in the lowest third of the trial population at randomization had the strongest effect (17.5 versus 34.1%; hazard ratio, 0.46).

“Supplementation with n-3 LCPUFA in the third trimester of pregnancy reduced the absolute risk of persistent wheeze or asthma and infections of the lower respiratory tract in offspring by approximately 7 percentage points, or one-third,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; two authors reported being named on a pending patent relating to the prevention of childhood asthma through FADS genotyping.


Bisgaard H, et al. “Fish Oil–Derived Fatty Acids In Pregnancy And Wheeze And Asthma In Offspring”. New England Journal of Medicine. 2016. 375(26): 2530-2539. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1503734

Ramsden C. “Breathing Easier with Fish Oil — A New Approach to Preventing Asthma?” New England Journal of Medicine. 2016. 375(26): 2596-2598. doi: 10.1056/NEJMe1611723

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