Women who took fish oil during the last three months of pregnancy significantly lowered the risk that their children would develop asthma, a study in Denmark has found.
Among children whose mothers took fish-oil capsules, 16.9 percent had asthma by age three, compared with 23.7 percent whose mothers were given placebos. The difference, nearly 7 percentage points, translates to a risk reduction of about 31 percent.
But in the study released on Dec. 28 last year, the researchers say they are not ready to recommend that pregnant women routinely take fish oil.
Before doctors can make any recommendations, the study should be replicated, and fish oil should be tested earlier in pregnancy and at different doses.
Doctors are eager to find ways to prevent asthma, a chronic disease that causes wheezing, coughing and breathing trouble, and that sends many families to the emergency room again and again.
The incidence has more than doubled in developed countries in recent decades.
Previous research had suggested that fish oil might help prevent asthma. The idea is plausible, because inflammation in the airways and lungs plays a major role in asthma, and fatty acids in fish oil are thought to prevent inflammation. The richest sources in food include fish like herring, sardines, mackerel, eel and salmon.
■ This article is an edited version of a piece that originally appeared in the New York Times
(New York Times / Denise Grady)
1. asthma n.
氣喘 (qi4 chuan3)
2. placebo n.
安慰劑 (an1 wei4 ji4)
3. wheeze v.
喘鳴 (chuan3 ming2)
4. incidence [of a disease] n.
發病率 (fa1 bing4 lu4)
5. inflammation n.
發炎 (fa1 yan2)