Maternal intake of omega-3 (omega-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) during pregnancy has decreased, possibly contributing to a current increased risk of childhood allergy.
Aim: To describe the effects of maternal omega-3 long-chain PUFA supplementation during pregnancy and lactation on the incidence of allergic disease in infancy.
Methods: One hundred and forty-five pregnant women, affected by allergy themselves or having a husband or previous child with allergies, were included in a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Daily maternal supplementation with either 1.6 g eicosapentaenoic acid and 1.1 g docosahexaenoic acid or placebo was given from the 25(th) gestational week to average 3-4 months of breastfeeding. Skin prick tests, detection of circulating specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies and clinical examinations of the infants were performed.
Results: The period prevalence of food allergy was lower in the omega-3 group (1/52, 2%) compared to the placebo group (10/65, 15%, p < 0.05) as well as the incidence of IgE-associated eczema (omega-3 group: 4/52, 8%; placebo group: 15/63, 24%, p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Maternal omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may decrease the risk of food allergy and IgE-associated eczema during the first year of life in infants with a family history of allergic disease.