Fish Oil, Pregnancy, and Asthma

iStock-505980885Asthma is a killer, especially for children. Now a study Rick and I report on PodMed this week and published in the New England Journal of Medicine offers hope for preventing this condition by supplementing pregnant women with fish oil. Novel for sure, and able to reduce the incidence of asthma and wheezing in offspring by an impressive 30%+.  What exactly did they do?

First off it must be admitted that the study took place in Denmark, one of the places in the world where a robust and trusted healthcare system could identify, recruit, supplement women during pregnancy and track offspring for a few years after their birth.  Moreover Denmark may have been one of the few places where the a priori hypothesis that reduced consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and the observed increase in asthma and wheezing in children were related.  In any case, 736 women recruited to the study were randomly assigned to receive 2.4 grams of fish oil per day or olive oil, beginning at 24 weeks of gestation. Their children were followed for three years after birth. In short, the study found that supplementation resulted in a one-third reduction of wheezing, asthma, and upper respiratory infections among those children whose mothers took fish oil. As Rick and I comment, seems like a reasonable strategy to employ right now in all pregnant women, as the downside is almost nonexistent while the potential upside sizable.

Other topics this week include two from Annals of Internal Medicine:Readmission Rates After Passage of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction ProgramA Pre–Post Analysis and The Scientific Basis of Guideline Recommendations on Sugar IntakeA Systematic Review, and from JAMA US Spending on Personal Health Care and Public Health, 1996-2013.  Happy New Year, and y'all live well.


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