Omega-3 Supplementation to Reduce Eczema and Food Allergies Lincoln NE

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Omega-3 Supplementation to Reduce Eczema and Food Allergies

Omega-3 Supplementation During Pregnancy May Reduce Eczema and Food Allergies.
Date: Thursday, July 09, 2009
Source: Acta Paediatr
Related Monographs: Eczema, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Fish Oil
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Fish oil contains both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both of these are members of omega-3 family of fatty acids and are different from the omega-3 fatty acids found in oils from vegetable sources. In the late 1970s, scientists learned that the native Inuits in Greenland, who consumed a diet very high in omega-3 fatty acids, had surprisingly low rates of heart attacks. Since that time, more than 4,500 studies have been conducted in an attempt to understand the beneficial roles that the omega-3 fatty acids play in human metabolism and health. Marine plants such as plankton are the primary source of omega-3 fatty acids in the food chain. Fish and other aquatic animals that feed on plankton, incorporate the omega-3 fatty acids into their tissues.

Eczema is a chronic skin condition, characterized by dry, red, flaky patches of skin. Eczema appears most commonly on the face, neck, elbows, wrists, knees, behind the ears, and on the scalp. During acute episodes, the patches become oozing, inflamed, and itchy. There are currently two recognized classifications of dermatitis: atopic and contact. Eczema is an atopic condition, an inherited form of an allergic disorder. It typically appears in infancy or early childhood. Children whose parents both have allergies are twice as likely to develop allergies themselves.

A food allergy, or hypersensitivity, is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body's immune system producing what is called an allergic, or immunoglobulin (IgE), antibody to food. These proteins can cross the gastrointestinal lining, travel through the bloodstream and cause allergic reactions throughout the body. While many people often have gas, bloating or other unpleasant reactions to something they eat, this is not an allergic response. Such a reaction is thought to not involve the immune system and is called "food intolerance." A true food allergy is an allergic reaction to the smallest amount of the problem food. The only way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid foods that cause signs and symptoms of food allergies.

A new study adds to the ever-growing list of studies supporting the potential health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. The study evaluated the maternal intake of omega-3 and whether it could decrease the risk of food allergies and eczema in their children. A total of 145 pregnant women who were affected by an allergy themselves or having a husband or previous child with allergies were included in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Beginning in the 25th week of pregnancy and continuing for between three to four months of breastfeeding, the women were randomly assigned to receive either daily fish oil supplements providing 1.6 g of EPA and 1.1 g of DHA or placebo. The results revealed that the omega-3 group showed a food allergy prevalence of 2 percent, compared to 15 percent in the placebo group. Even more impressive was the incidence of IgE-associated eczema, which was only 8 percent in the omega-3 group, compared to 24 percent in the placebo group. These findings suggest that omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy and lactation may reduce both food allergies and eczema in children.1

1 Furuhjelm C, Warstedt K, Larsson J, et al. Fish oil supplementation in pregnancy and lactation may decrease the risk of infant allergy. Acta Paediatr. Jun2009.

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