New research suggests that a higher dietary intake of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in childhood may reduce the risk of developing subsequent asthma, but only in children carrying a common gene variant. The study, led by Queen Mary University of London, is in collaboration with the University of Bristol and University of Southampton, UK, and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.
In the UK, 1.1 million children (1 in 11) are currently receiving treatment for asthma and most adult asthma begins in childhood. The NHS spends around £1 billion a year treating and caring for people with asthma.
Senior author, Professor Seif Shaheen from Queen Mary University of London, said: “Asthma is the most common chronic condition in childhood and we currently don’t know how to prevent it. It is possible that a poor diet may increase the risk of developing asthma, but until now most studies have taken ‘snap-shots’, measuring diet and asthma over a short period of time. Instead, we measured diet and then followed up children over many years to see who developed asthma and who didn’t.
“Whilst we cannot say for certain that eating more fish will prevent asthma in children, based on our findings, it would nevertheless be sensible for children in the UK to consume more fish, as few currently achieve recommended intake.”