Supplementation with DHA Concentrate during Pregnancy and a Lowered Incidence of Infant Atopic Eczema

September 7, 2022


Effect of n-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation in Pregnancy on Infants’ Allergies in First Year of Life: Randomised Controlled Trial
Palmer, D.J. et al., British Medical Journal, 344: in press, 2012
Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute , North Adelaide, and University of Adelaide, South Australia


Since long-chain omega-6 fatty acid (as AA, arachidonic acid) in human cells as associated with immune responses to allergens is known to produce bioactive mediators such as prostaglandins , it is possible that suppressing the cellular levels of AA omega-6 via increased intakes of long-chain omega-3 (such as DHA) may modify such allergic responses. The present study investigated the potential ability of increasing DHA intakes via supplementation during pregnancy on allergic responses on the mothers’ infants. For this purpose , one group of pregnant mothers received a ‘placebo’ (control) supplementation or omega-3 supplementation (800 mg DHA plus 100 mg EPA) daily from 21 weeks of gestation until delivery . At one-year follow-up , the infants were assessed for immunoglobulin E-associated allergic disease (via positivity on skin prick testing) or for the presence of eczema on medical review or a history of an indicative itchy skin rash.

The results indicated no significant effect of omega-3 supplementation on the former assessments. However, the percentage of infants diagnosed as having atopic eczema was significantly lower (by 36 %) in the omega-3 group as comparde to controls.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

It is interesting to note that the daily supplementation used in the present study consisted of 800 mg DHA plus 100 mg EPA which is much higher than recommended intakes of DHA omega-3 during pregnancy by many international groups (200 – 300 mg DHA/day) and as available in many prenatal supplements available commercially. Such higher intakes of 800 mg DHA/day are similar to intakes amongst a considerable portion of pregnant women in Japan. It remains to be further studied and confirmed if the higher intakes of DHA may offer better protection against atopic eczema during infancy.

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