Immune Function

Fish Consumption in Pregnancy: Linked to Less Childhood Asthma

The incidence of asthma has been increasing worldwide and now affects about 193 million individuals globally. In Denmark, the prevalence of asthma doubled from 5.3% to 11.7% over the period from 1986 to 2001. Recognized as a heterogeneous condition, asthma often follows persistent childhood wheeze.  Among the factors related to the development of asthma, are maternal history of asthma, maternal smoking and air pollution, presence of hay fever, eczema, female sex, exercise and more recently, low birthweight. Links to maternal diet in pregnancy, especially dietary fat, have been explored at…

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Fish Consumption in Infancy: Associated with Less Childhood Wheeze

Evidence for a relationship between a mother’s consumption of fish, especially fatty fish, during pregnancy and the risk of her child developing asthma in childhood is inconsistent. Consumption of fish oil during pregnancy was associated with a significantly lower rate of allergic asthma at age 16 years. Some studies reported a lower occurrence of wheeze or asthma in early childhood or decreased severity of the condition among infants and children at high-risk of developing asthma, but others observed no effect. A few studies reported a lower risk of asthma or…

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n-3 LC-PUFA But Not Fish Intakes in Young Adults: Linked to Lower Risk of Asthma

The prevalence of asthma in the U.S. increased from 7.3 to 8.2% during 2001 to 2009, and now afflicts about 25 million persons, or one in 12. On a global basis, some 193 million adults suffer from asthma. The prevalence is highest in the Americas and among poor U.S. children at 13.5%. Only about one-third of U.S. individuals with asthma use long-term medications to control their condition, indicating substantial need for improved health care. A combination of environmental factors and genetics contributes to the condition. In susceptible individuals, allergens such…

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High-Dose EPA Associated with Less Immunosuppression from UV Radiation

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the primary cause of nonmelanoma skin cancers, the most common cancer among white-skinned individuals. Although the condition carries a very low mortality rate, morbidity and treatment costs can be high. The incidence of these cancers is increasing worldwide, with the highest rates found in Australia. In North America, the incidence increases with decreasing latitude, while skin type and sunbathing also affect the incidence significantly. In the U.S., the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer among Medicare patients—those aged 65 or more—increased nearly 77%…

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Fatty Acid Intake in Pregnancy May Affect Risk of Allergic Rhinitis in Offspring

The search for ways to reduce the occurrence of childhood allergies has led to studies on how polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) might be involved. The huge increase in the consumption of vegetable oils, which supply large amounts of omega-6 PUFAs, has contributed to the reduced intake of omega-3 PUFAs, especially those from fish. The immune system is affected by fatty acids and several observational studies have reported a lower severity or delay of allergic symptoms in the offspring of mothers who consumed fish during pregnancy. Studies where mothers have consumed…

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High Omega-6 Fatty Acids in Breast Milk and Child’s Risk of Asthmatic Symptoms

One of the advantages of breastfeeding may be a lower risk that the child will develop symptoms of allergic disease. Studies have reported a lower occurrence of asthma in breastfed Canadian, U.S. and Dutch children, but one study reported a higher risk of asthma and wheeze in breastfed children whose mothers were asthmatic. Children whose mothers ate oily fish during pregnancy were also less likely to develop asthma in some studies, while children whose mothers consumed diets rich in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, experienced a higher risk of…

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Omega-3s Given to High-Risk Infants After Birth Suggest Improved Immune Function

To evaluate whether long-chain omega-3 fatty acids might improve the occurrence or symptoms of allergic disease in infants at high risk of these conditions, investigators have often provided the omega-3s through the mother’s diet. It is generally believed that the earlier an infant is exposed to these fatty acids, the greater the likelihood of benefit. However, findings have been contradictory and inconsistent. We still cannot say with confidence that providing these fatty acids through maternal supplementation in pregnancy will help the offspring. There is enough encouraging evidence of some benefit…

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Fish Oil Pretreatment Before Exercise Linked to Some Improvements in Immune Function

The health benefits of regular exercise have been abundantly described, but for some people that is just not enough. Regular exercise—just going for a daily walk—is something you have to work into your daily routine and consider essential. Once you do, a better feeling of wellbeing, improved circulation and breathing and sometimes a happier outlook usually follows. For older adults, regular exercise, which means a planned, structured and repetitive activity such as an aerobics class or brisk walking, improves muscle strength, balance and coordination. These benefits reduce the risk of…

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Postnatal Omega-3 Supplementation in High-Risk Infants Improves Immune Function

Many studies have explored the effects of increased intake of n-3 LC-PUFAs on the occurrence and symptoms of allergic disease, especially in infants at high risk of developing atopy. Most research has examined the outcomes of maternal supplementation with these fatty acids during pregnancy. As described in the preceding article, results have generally shown that the overall incidence of allergic disease is not significantly reduced, but symptoms may be delayed and less severe. Reduced sensitization to certain allergens has also been reported. Some studies have reported no significant effects, while…

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Maternal Dietary Fatty Acids and Risk of Allergic Disease in the Offspring at Age 5

Attempts to determine the cause(s) of the increased prevalence of allergic diseases in Western countries have led to the investigation of how dietary fatty acids and other factors might affect the susceptibility to and severity of allergic diseases, especially in infants and children. In recent decades, the consumption of omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs has increased dramatically, while that of omega-3 (n-3) PUFAs, especially of the long-chain n-3 LC-PUFAs, has diminished. This has resulted in lower tissue concentrations of n-3 LC-PUFAs. High levels of n-6 PUFAs in conjunction with low concentrations of…

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