High levels of omega-3 fatty acids in milk from omega-3 fatty acid-supplemented mothers are related to less immunoglobulin E-associated disease in infancy

Acta Paediatr. 2016 Nov;105(11):1337-1347. doi: 10.1111/apa.13395. Epub 2016 Apr 8.


Aim: We previously reported a protective effect of maternal omega-3 fatty acid supplements on the development of immunoglobulin E (IgE)-associated disease in infancy. This study assessed omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) in maternal milk in relation to omega-3 LCPUFA supplementation and the development of allergic disease in their infants.

Methods: This study randomised 95 pregnant women at risk of having an allergic infant, to daily supplements of 2.6 g omega-3 LCPUFA or a placebo of 2.7 g soya bean oil from gestational week 25 until 3 months of lactation. Breast milk samples were collected as colostrum, at one and 3 months. Milk fatty acids were related to allergic outcome in the infants at 24 months.

Results: Omega-3 milk fatty acids were higher in women who received omega-3 supplements than the placebo group (p < 0.01). Higher proportions of milk eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid and a lower arachidonic/eicosapentaenoic acid ratio were associated with an absence of IgE-associated disease in the infants. None of the children developed IgE-associated atopic eczema above a level of 0.83 mol% eicosapentaenoic acid in colostrum. [Correction added on 7 July 2016, after online publication: In the preceding sentence, the correct word should be "above" instead of "below" and this has been amended in this current version.] CONCLUSION: High omega-3 LCPUFA milk levels in mothers who received omega-3 LCPUFA supplements were related to fewer allergies in their children.

Keywords: Allergic disease; Breastfeeding; Immunoglobulin E; Omega-3; Pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / immunology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Immunity, Maternally-Acquired*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / immunology*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / immunology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Skin Tests
  • Sweden


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Immunoglobulin E