Background: The Childhood Asthma Prevention Study was a randomized controlled trial conducted in children with a family history of asthma in whom omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and restriction of dietary omega-6 fatty acids did not prevent asthma, eczema, or atopy at age 5 years.
Objective: We sought to examine the relation of all measures of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids with outcomes at age 5 years in the whole birth cohort, regardless of randomization group.
Methods: Plasma fatty acids were measured at 18 months, 3 years, and 5 years. Compliance with the fatty acid supplements was estimated every 6 months. Dietary intake was assessed at 18 months by means of weighed-food record and at 3 years by means of food-frequency questionnaire. At age 5 years, 516 children were examined for wheeze and eczema (questionnaire) and atopy (skin prick tests, n = 488). Multiple logistic regression was used to evaluate associations between exposures and outcomes.
Results: Plasma levels of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids were not associated with wheeze, eczema, or atopy at age 5 years (P = .11-.96). Overall, fatty acid exposure, measured as plasma levels, dietary intake, and compliance with supplements, was not associated with any respiratory or allergic outcomes (P = .35-.59).
Conclusion: This observational analysis of the cohort, using the full range of observed variation in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid exposure, supports the negative findings of the randomized controlled trial.
Clinical implications: Modification of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids in early childhood is not helpful in preventing atopy and asthma.