Omega-3 fatty acids and asthma in children

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2014 May-Jun;35(3):233-40. doi: 10.2500/aap.2014.35.3736.


The purpose of this study was to summarize and analyze the results of studies supporting the use of omega-3 fatty acids for their therapeutic and preventive value in childhood asthma in light of recent genetic evidence strongly suggesting a pathogenetic role in asthma and to discuss the implications of these findings for future research. Although a considerable number of observational studies have been conducted in children showing a beneficial effect of omega-3 dietary intake in asthma, a fully well-designed, rigorously conducted investigational study is still lacking. Additionally, the few interventional trials with omega-3 supplementation conducted in asthmatic children have often yielded conflicting results. The genetic polymorphism and the gene-nutritional interactions that accompany asthma can be the missing factors and may explain the inconsistent results found in these interventional trials. Therefore, the analyses of key genes variants should be included in future studies to thoroughly investigate the effects of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid on asthma. Although a definitive conclusion can not be made supporting a beneficial effect of dietary modification or supplementation with omega-3 for the prevention or modification of asthmatic disease in children, there is sufficient evidence to support this possibility. There is, therefore, a clear need for future research to investigate the feasibility of this dietetic approach to reduce the likely development of asthma and/or the successful treatment of asthmatic disease. From a public health perspective, if a dietetic approach is successfully documented, even if only in a cohort of susceptible individuals, it would offer a far better management tool than currently available, better tolerated, and, in the long run, more cost-effective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Asthma / prevention & control
  • Asthma / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / metabolism
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3