According to a recent study, giving a baby fish oil supplements is not effective at preventing food allergies. The researchers found that fish oil had little impact on the risk of developing food allergies by age 1 in babies who were given the supplements during their first six months.
It was previously believed that fish oil could have some effect on food allergies because lower omega-3 fatty acid levels have been associated with a rise in allergies. These acids are necessary for many functions, but cannot be produced by the body. Instead, they must be consumed in food or dietary supplements, including fish oil.
Fish Oil Taken During Pregnancy Vs. Given to Infants
While other studies have suggested that taking fish oil during pregnancy may reduce the risk of allergies in infants, this is the first study to examine the potential benefits of fish oil given to babies from birth to 6 months. Another study in babies older than 6 months also found no allergy-prevention effect.
Researcher Susan Prescott, PhD, MD, a professor at the University of Western Australia, wrote in the journalPediatrics”Our results, together with previous findings, will likely help define a ‘window of opportunity’ for allergy intervention using fish oil supplements.” She and her colleagues concluded “Fish oil supplementation during very early infancy was not effective in preventing allergic disease.” However, fish oil supplements may be beneficial when taken earlier in infant development, as demonstrated by previous studies of fish oil taken during pregnancy.