New research from Australia suggests that taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy may prevent allergies from developing in babies – even those at high risk due to family history.
The study, published in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that after a year, the babies born to women who took fish oil supplements seemed less allergy-prone than expected, given the medical history of their mothers. The fish oil capsules were supplied to pregnant women with a history of hay fever or asthma to see if the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids would affect their babies’ developing immune systems, making them less allergy prone. The researchers speculated that the increased incidence in allergies in Western nations during the past few decades might be partially due to a decline in omega-3s in the diet.
The researchers now plan to study whether children whose mothers took fish oil capsules during pregnancy actually develop allergies at a lower rate as they grow up.