Fish and Fish Oil Equally Protective Against Childhood Asthma?


Fish oil supplementation during pregnancy is associated with reduced asthma risk in offspring, but consuming the recommended amount of fish may also provide the same benefit, according to a recently-published review of 2 studies.

The review, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, concluded that children whose mothers consume high-dose omega-3 fatty acids daily during the third trimester are less likely to develop asthma.1 However, the researchers also noted that adhering to the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommendation to consume 8-12 ounces of low mercury fish per week during pregnancy may be just as beneficial.

In 1 of the studies examined, 346 pregnant women in their third trimester took fish oil supplements daily and 349 pregnant women took a placebo. The researchers divided the trial participants into 3 groups based on their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and found that the women with the lowest blood levels benefited most from fish oil supplementation.

In the other study, the researchers randomly assigned pregnant women in their third trimester into fish oil, placebo, and “no oil” groups. The “no oil” group was informed of the study proposal and therefore could consume fish oil or fish during the third trimester if they chose to do so. The researchers found that the fish oil and “no oil” groups took less medication as they aged to 24 years old, suggesting that both groups developed less asthma.

Despite the study’s findings, the researchers noted that it may be premature to recommend daily high dose fish oil supplementation during the final trimester to reduce asthma risk. Additionally, consuming 2-3 servings of fish per week may provide the same asthma protection, as well as add nutritional benefits to infant growth and development, the researchers concluded.2


  • Lin CH, Lockey RF. Prevention of asthma: fish or fish oil? Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. 2017. Doi:
  • Fish Consumption Offers Same Protection in Preventing Childhood Asthma as Fish Oil Supplements [news release]. Tampa. USF’s website. Accessed November 1, 2017.
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