Supplements that are ‘long-chain’ and contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are the most effective, say researchers from the Copenhagen
Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood. The two acids are naturally found in oily, cold water fish.
Women who are low in EPA and DHA get the most benefit from the supplements; typically, women in the USA and Canada are more likely to be deficient as they eat less oily fish than someone in Denmark, the researchers say.
The researchers discovered the protective effects of omega-3 supplements when they gave them to a group of 695 pregnant women, and then monitored the health of their children for five years afterwards.
The women were given 2.4 g of omega-3 supplements every day during the third trimester of the pregnancy, and those who had high levels of EPA and DHA by the time they gave birth were 31 per cent less likely to have a child who was asthmatic.
Research group leader Prof Hans Bisgaard said the study “definitively and significantly” proved that there is a link between low intake of omega-3 and the rising levels of childhood asthma.