Preventing allergy is a priority for both physicians and parents. There have been many studies attempting to lessen the risk of both food and environmental allergies.
Here are a few examples of possible interventions to decrease the risk of allergy;
- Frequent application of emollients (moisturizers) from birth.
- Breast feeding, hypoallergenic formulas, early introduction of foods.
- Avoiding pets OR adding more pets.
A study, started in 1990 and recently completed and accepted for publication, looked at fish oil supplementation in pregnancy*. Over 500 pregnant mothers were given supplements containing fish oil, olive oil or no oil. The hypothesis was that maternal supplementation with long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may have immunological effects on the developing fetus and decrease allergies and asthma. The children were evaluated when they reached 18 years of age.
The probability of having had asthma medication prescribed was significantly reduced in the fish oil group compared to the olive oil group (HR=0.54, 95% CI: 0.32-0.90, p=0.02). The probability of having had allergic rhinitis medication prescribed was also reduced in the fish oil group compared to the olive oil group (HR=0.70, 95% CI: 0.47-1.05, p=0.09), but the difference was not statistically significant. Self-reported information collected at age 18-19 years supported these findings.
Maternal supplementation with fish oil may have prophylactic potential for long-term prevention of offspring asthma.
Hansen S, Strøm M, Maslova E, Dahl R, Hoffmann HJ, Rytter D, Bech BH, Henriksen TB, Granström C, Halldorsson TI, Chavarro JE, Linneberg A, Olsen SF, Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy and allergic respiratory disease in the adult offspring, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (2016), doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.02.042.