The findings of a new study might be another compelling reason to optimize omega-3 fat intake, especially during pregnancy.
Research from the University of Waterloo and Copenhagen University Hospital’s Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC) recently found that taking certain omega-3 supplements while pregnant can decrease the risk of childhood asthma by nearly one-third.
Slashing Childhood Asthma Risk
Professor Hans Bisgaard from COPSAC said experts have long been looking at a link among omega-3 fatty acids’ anti-inflammatory action, low omega-3 consumption in the standard Western diet, and the recent climb in childhood asthma rates.
“This study proves that they are definitively and significantly related,” he said in a press release.
In the investigation, the team used rapid analytical techniques to analyze blood samples from almost 700 Danish women at 24 weeks as well as one week post-delivery. Afterwards they monitored the health of every participating offspring for five years, the point at which the symptoms of the disease usually manifest.
Women who were given 2.4 grams of long-chain omega-3s on their third trimester reduced their child’s asthma risk by 31 percent. On the other hand, those who had low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at the start of the study gained the most benefit from supplementing, slashing their child’s relative risk by a staggering 54 percent.
More Canadians and Americans exhibited low EPA and DHA blood levels compared to their Danish counterparts. Incidentally, asthma as well as wheezing disorders have more than doubled in Western nations in previous decades, with one out of five young kids now suffering from the disorders before they even enter school.
The findings were discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Omega-3 Sources And Benefits
Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, trout, salmon, herring, and sardines, as well as in algae, krill, certain plants, and nut oils. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center research, omega-3s decrease inflammation and may help lower the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. These fatty acids are mostly concentrated in the brain and appear to be critical for cognitive function, which governs brain memory and performance.
Babies who lack omega-3s from their mothers during pregnancy are considered at risk for developing a range of vision and nerve issues. Deficiency signs include fatigue, dry skin, poor memory, mood swings, depression, poor circulation, and heart issues.
A separate study, published in August by a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, discovered that heart attack patients who took high doses of omega-3 rich fish oil supplements over a six-month period were likely to have improved heart function and less likely to experience scarring. Blood sample analysis also revealed that those who took the supplements demonstrated lower levels of inflammatory markers.
The findings suggest that taking omega-3s may also be a strategy for heart attack patients, since the heart tends to stay stronger if more remaining healthy tissues are saved.