Effect of Dietary Intake of omega-3 and omega-6 Fatty Acids on Severity of Asthma in Children

Eur Respir J. 1998 Feb;11(2):361-5. doi: 10.1183/09031936.98.11020361.


We assessed the clinical and biochemical effects in asthmatic children of fish oil supplementation and a diet that increases omega-3 and reduces omega-6 fatty acids. Thirty nine asthmatic children aged 8-12 yrs participated in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial for 6 months during which they received fish oil capsules plus canola oil and margarine (omega-3 group) or safflower oil capsules plus sunflower oil and margarine (omega-6 group). Plasma fatty acids, stimulated tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) production, circulating eosinophil numbers and lung function were measured at baseline and after 3 and 6 months of dietary modification. Day and night symptoms, peak flow rates and medication use were recorded for 1 week prior to laboratory visits. Plasma phospholipid omega-3 fatty acids were significantly greater in the omega-3 group at 3 and 6 months compared to the omega-6 group (p<0.001). In the omega-3 group TNFalpha production fell significantly compared with baseline (p=0.026), but the magnitude of change between groups did not reach significance (p=0.075). There were no significant changes in clinical outcome measures. Dietary enrichment of omega-3 fatty acids over 6 months increased plasma levels of these fatty acids, reduced stimulated tumour necrosis factor alpha production, but had no effect on the clinical severity of asthma in these children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / blood
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Child
  • Dietary Fats / therapeutic use*
  • Eosinophils / pathology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / therapeutic use*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-6
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha