BACKGROUND: We hypothesized that insufficient intake of fish oil-derived omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs) during pregnancy is a contributing factor to gastroenteritis in early childhood. We examined the effect of n-3 LCPUFA supplementation on gastroenteritis symptoms in the offspring's first 3 years of life.
METHODS: This was a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial whereby 736 mothers were administered n-3 LCPUFA or control from pregnancy week 24 until 1 week after birth. We measured the number of days with gastroenteritis, number of episodes with gastroenteritis, and the risk of having a gastroenteritis episode in the first 3 years of life.
RESULTS: A median reduction of 2.5 days with gastroenteritis (P = .018) was shown, corresponding to a 14% reduction in the n-3 LCPUFA group compared with controls in the first 3 years of life (P = .037). A reduction in the number of gastroenteritis episodes (P = .027) and a reduced risk of having an episode (hazard ratio, 0.80 [95% confidence interval, .66-.97]; P = .023) were also shown.
CONCLUSIONS: Fish oil supplementation from the 24th week of pregnancy led to a reduction in the number of days and episodes with gastroenteritis symptoms in the first 3 years of life. The findings suggest n-3 LCPUFA supplementation as a preventive measure against gastrointestinal infections in early childhood.
CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT00798226.
- Child, Preschool
- Dietary Supplements
- Fatty Acids, Omega-3/therapeutic use
- Fish Oils/therapeutic use
- Gastroenteritis/prevention & control