European Respiratory Society


We assessed the clinical and biochemical effects in asthmatic children of fish oil supplementation and a diet that increases omega-3 and reduces omega-6 fatty acids. Thirty nine asthmatic children aged 8-12 yrs participated in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial for 6 months during which they received fish oil capsules plus canola oil and margarine (omega-3 group) or safflower oil capsules plus sunflower oil and margarine (omega-6 group). Plasma fatty acids, stimulated tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) production, circulating eosinophil numbers and lung function were measured at baseline and after 3 and 6 months of dietary modification. Day and night symptoms, peak flow rates and medication use were recorded for 1 week prior to laboratory visits. Plasma phospholipid omega-3 fatty acids were significantly greater in the omega-3 group at 3 and 6 months compared to the omega-6 group (p<0.001). In the omega-3 group TNFalpha production fell significantly compared with baseline (p=0.026), but the magnitude of change between groups did not reach significance (p=0.075). There were no significant changes in clinical outcome measures. Dietary enrichment of omega-3 fatty acids over 6 months increased plasma levels of these fatty acids, reduced stimulated tumour necrosis factor alpha production, but had no effect on the clinical severity of asthma in these children.