Fish oil may help pregnant women prevent asthma in their babies

Denise Dador Image
Thursday, March 29, 2018
Fish oil may help pregnant women prevent asthma in babies
A study suggests that pregnant women who take fish oil supplements can help minimize their child's risk for asthma.

Many studies have shown eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements may have benefits ranging from heart health to mood boosters to brain development.

Now a study suggests it may also help with asthma very early in life.

Salina Rosario is a new mom who has had asthma and allergies for most of her life.

"I'm allergic to animals, to dust, to pollen, everything. It's tough," Rosario said.

More than 25 million Americans suffer from asthma. And about 60 percent have allergic asthma.

A CDC report finds if a person has a parent with asthma, he or she is three to six times more likely to develop asthma than someone who doesn't.

Rosario is concerned about those stats when it comes her 4-month-old son, Blaze.

"So far, thank God, he hasn't shown any symptoms yet," Rosario said.

While Rosario is doing everything she can, including breastfeeding Blaze, which is linked to boosted immunity in babies, there's something else moms-to-be can do.

A new study presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology meeting suggests eating fish oil while you're pregnant could have a protective effect on your unborn child.

Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, with South Bay Asthma and Allergy, says this research shows an early window of opportunity to intervene.

"We can mold the immune system in a way that can potentially minimize risk for allergic disease," Marks-Cogan said.

In the study, women took 2.4 grams of fish oil supplements from 24 weeks of pregnancy. The children were followed for up to three years. Those with asthma saw a two-fold reduction in wheezing.

So how does fish oil help your lungs? The theory is that omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in your airways.

"One of the components of asthma is inflammation in the airways," Marks-Cogan said.

It's something women who are expecting can do to help the health of their infants.

Marks-Cogan says there's enough evidence to suggest pregnant women talk to their ob-gyns about fish oil supplementation, whether you have a family history of asthma and allergies or not.

"We see children that develop allergies without any really known risk factors," Marks-Cogan said. "So all of these early type interventions can potentially help us minimize risk."

Salina says she feels good that she'd been taking fish oil supplements as part of her prenatal vitamin regimen. And she's still taking them since she's nursing.

"I know fish oil has been used for other things, so why not," Rosario said.