Saturday, 6 August 2011

Coughs and sneezes and omega-3 fatty acids

A quick post on this cold and rainy Saturday evening. Our summer weather here in the North-East of England has vanished it seems, although the garden is as green as ever as a result of the downpours.

The journal Pediatrics includes details of a new study suggesting a beneficial effect from pre-natal supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - an omega-3 fatty acid - on the duration and severity of coughs and sneezes in young infants. The paper* by Imhoff-Kunsch and colleagues reports on a double-blind, randomised-controlled, placebo-controlled study of over 1000 pregnant women and their 800 or so infants. Mums-to-be were given either 400mg of DHA or placebo during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The results suggested that those infants in the DHA supplement group still got coughs and sneezes but generally speaking the episodes at 1, 3 and 6 months were fewer and shorter in duration compared with the placebo group.

The study design and number of participants included in the study are impressive and make for quite a powerful study. The evidence continues to mount for the value of fatty acids for body and brain.

* Imhoff-Kunsch B. et al. Prenatal docosahexaenoic acid supplementation and infant morbidity: randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. August 2011.