The great fish oil religion again. This is actually a fairly dishonest piece of work. As you will see from the appended journal article there was NO DIFFERENCE in overall allergy sensitivity at the end of the experiment.
But a bit of data dredging turned up a couple of reactions which looked marginally significant. If they had used the proper experiment-wise error-rate approach to significance testing even those effects would have vanished, however.
Taking fish oils during pregnancy could protect your unborn baby from eczema, scientists say. In tests, children whose mothers took omega 3 supplements were a third less likely to develop the dry skin condition. They were also 50 per cent less likely to develop an intolerance to eggs before their first birthdays.
The Australian scientists believe that omega 3 fatty acids passed on to via the placenta affect the unborn babyâ€™s immune system which protects against eczema.
Researchers at Adelaide University studied 706 pregnant women with a family history of allergies. Half were given fish oil supplements to take three times a day from 21 weeks into the pregnancy until the birth. The others were given vegetable oil.
More research is needed to see if fish oils protect against asthma and hay fever, the British Medical Journal reported.
The Government advises pregnant women not to eat more than four portions of fish a week as high levels of mercury can be dangerous to the baby.
Journal article follows:
Cite this as:BMJ2012;344:e184
Effect of n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in pregnancy on infantsâ€™ allergies in first year of life: randomised controlled trial
By D J Palmer et al.
Objective: To determine whether dietary n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCPUFA) supplementation of pregnant women with a fetus at high risk of allergic disease reduces immunoglobulin E associated eczema or food allergy at 1 year of age.
Design: Follow-up of infants at high hereditary risk of allergic disease in the Docosahexaenoic Acid to Optimise Mother Infant Outcome (DOMInO) randomised controlled trial.
Setting: Adelaide, South Australia.
Participants: 706 infants at high hereditary risk of developing allergic disease whose mothers were participating in the DOMInO trial.
Interventions: The intervention group (n=368) was randomly allocated to receive fish oil capsules (providing 900 mg of n-3 LCPUFA daily) from 21 weeksâ€™ gestation until birth; the control group (n=338) received matched vegetable oil capsules without n-3 LCPUFA.
Main outcome measure: Immunoglobulin E associated allergic disease (eczema or food allergy with sensitisation) at 1 year of age.
Results: No differences were seen in the overall percentage of infants with immunoglobulin E associated allergic disease between the n-3 LCPUFA and control groups (32/368 (9%) v 43/338 (13%); unadjusted relative risk 0.68, 95% confidence interval 0.43 to 1.05, P=0.08; adjusted relative risk 0.70, 0.45 to 1.09, P=0.12), although the percentage of infants diagnosed as having atopic eczema (that is, eczema with associated sensitisation) was lower in the n-3 LCPUFA group (26/368 (7%) v 39/338 (12%); unadjusted relative risk 0.61, 0.38 to 0.98, P=0.04; adjusted relative risk 0.64, 0.40 to 1.02, P=0.06). Fewer infants were sensitised to egg in the n-3 LCPUFA group (34/368 (9%) v 52/338 (15%); unadjusted relative risk 0.61, 0.40 to 0.91, P=0.02; adjusted relative risk 0.62, 0.41 to 0.93, P=0.02), but no difference between groups in immunoglobulin E associated food allergy was seen.
Conclusion: n-3 LCPUFA supplementation in pregnancy did not reduce the overall incidence of immunoglobulin E associated allergies in the first year of life, although atopic eczema and egg sensitisation were lower. Longer term follow-up is needed to determine if supplementation has an effect on respiratory allergic diseases and aeroallergen sensitisation in childhood.
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